Our portfolio company Annaida is developing a medical device that will allow doctors to screen embryos and determine the most viable to increase chances of success. Their technology can be used to detect and quantify various chemical compounds in microscopic entities, such as human embryos or stem cells, in a non-invasive way.
Annaida Technologies SA is a high-tech hardware company founded in 2019 and based in Lausanne. The company was founded with a unique mission: to give people the technology to measure the inaccessible. However, what is the inaccessible?
People from all walks of life share a timeless desire of starting a family, but it’s not always so easy. Every year more couples turn to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to establish a successful pregnancy. However, only 35% succeed after the first cycle. The uncertainty sometimes multiplies the costs as couples require more cycles and specialized tests, adding to the emotional and physical burden of such a procedure. Dealing with infertility and undergoing IVF are hugely stressful events, so it is no wonder that depression and anxiety are commonly reported among couples undergoing this procedure. A key role in an IVF cycle is played by the embryo, so the ability to select the most viable one is crucial. However, selection remains hindered by limitations of current technologies which remain unreliable, slow and even invasive. The embryo metabolism is known to be crucial to viability, but it remains inaccessible.
Annaida Technologies is working to improve this situation. The team is developing a breakthrough device that enables non-invasive chemical analysis at the single embryo scale. A device that will assist doctors in choosing the most viable embryo and increase the chances of success for couples undergoing treatment.
How does it work?
During an IVF treatment, a patient’s oocytes are fertilized in vitro. After a few days, the doctor screens the remaining embryos and chooses the best 1 or 2 for transfer.
Annaida’s solution is a new product for effective screening of embryos called EmbryoSpin, which consists of a disposable medical grade sensor. With unprecedented sensitivity it will allow doctors to access crucial metabolic information directly from inside the embryo, without touching it and completely label-free. The doctor will simply place embryos in the device, connect it to a machine for analysis, and after only an hour he will have them ranked by viability. This is made possible thanks to magnetic resonance technology, the same one behind MRI which is well known for its biocompatibility and lifesaving medical applications. Unlike MRI though, which occupies a whole room, Annaida has shrunk the system considerably to make it accessible to IVF clinics, but also R&D biolabs.
Where is now Annaida?
Currently, an advanced prototype is now in use at EPFL Lausanne and is available for demonstrations. Tests on mammalian embryos are about to start which are instrumental to the company’s milestones. However, this breakthrough enabling technology has multiple applications, not just in embryo screening for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), but also in the analysis of stem-cell microtissues and organoids for drug development, micro biopsy diagnosis.
In their latest scientific paper published weeks ago (link), they show the application of their device to analyze liver microtissues label-free. They used micro livers models simulating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and demonstrated the detection of lipid metabolism dynamic based on measurements of single 3D human liver microtissues.
During this study, they demonstrated and validated their device. Its simplicity of use, sensing performance, robustness, and versatility makes this technology suitable for extended non-invasive investigations of intact microscopic biological samples in the future. Such an advancement would have a big impact in research, drug development, and medicine.
HEMEX is committed to changing the future of healthcare by guiding the most promising European start-ups through each and every step to bring innovative pharmaceuticals, medical devices and in vitro diagnostics to the market. Headquartered close to the thriving Basel global Life Sciences hub, the goal at HEMEX is to ensure start-ups have access to a wide range of tailored products, practical solutions and fundraising support. This empowers the next generation of transformative discoveries to grow into successful and sustainable businesses, and drive change in both human and animal healthcare. For more information, visit https://hemex.ch/