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Data shows that one in eight women struggle with infertility. And in vitro fertilization, the most popular treatment they seek to help them conceive, can cost $20,000 per cycle and often takes several attempts. Since IVF is rarely covered by insurance, the exorbitant price tag is a serious financial barrier for women trying to get pregnant.
“It’s clearly an inefficient process at some level,” Alife Health founder Paxton Maeder-York told Insider. “And there’s opportunity to improve it.”
Maeder-York believes artificial intelligence is the future of fertility. His company, Alife Health, is using the technology to innovate the IVF process, with the end goal of making IVF cheaper and more accessible.
The company was just founded last year, but investors have already lined up to back it. Today, Alife Health announced a $9.5 million seed round led by Lux Capital, with other investors like Amplo, IA Ventures, and founder of 23andMe Anne Wojcicki contributing to the fundraise.
Deena Shakir, a partner at Lux Capital who will be joining the company’s board, told Insider it was about time for a company like Alife Health.
“There has not been a lot of innovation since the advent of IVF,” she said. “There is a massive opportunity for machine learning to transform the IVF experience and ultimately help contribute to advancing human health and health equity.”
Alife Health works by collecting a massive data set from fertility clinics across the country and using thousands of prior IVF cycles to decide which embryos will have the highest chance of success. By increasing the effectiveness of each cycle, people could potentially pay for less cycles, making the process significantly more affordable.
The technology is still being developed, but Maeder-York hinted to “keep an eye out for the Alife system sometime next year.” He said this new capital is “critical” to taking the company to the “next stage” of being used by doctors in their IVF treatments.
In 2020, investors poured nearly $78 million into fertility tech startups, according to PitchBook data.
Maeder-York said the money will go towards expanding their team, building partnerships with more fertility clinics, and collecting more data.
And, as they collect more data, Maeder-York is careful to avoid biases in their algorithm that have plagued other AI companies.
“We spent a lot of time making sure that we have a lot of diversity in our data, that we have representation from all different types of ethnicities, age groups, diagnoses,” he said.
This seed round is only the beginning for Alife Health, which Maeder-York hopes will one day provide personalized treatment plans for IVF patients from start to finish.
“Our team has deep conviction in the value of this type of technology and its ability to help patients,” he said.
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Source:: Businessinsider – Tech
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