pregnant, woman, child, baby, pregancy

pregnant, woman, child, baby, pregnancy

Complications of pregnancy – such as premature birth, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes – can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences for mothers and their newborns. However, only 20% of pregnancy complications can be identified by the standard risk assessment used by most obstetricians, according to the Personalized Pregnancy Care startup Mirvi.

Mirvie is working to solve this problem by developing diagnostic tools to help predict pregnancy risks. Founded in 2018, the company is building an RNA platform it says will be the first to predict preeclampsia and preterm birth months before they occur.

Investors seem to have noticed the value Mirvie’s platform can bring to pregnancy care — the startup earned $60 million earlier this year and brought the fundraising total to $90 million.

“RNA messages reveal the basic biology of pregnancy,” Dr. Alison Cowan, Mirvie’s head of medical affairs, said in an interview. “So by looking at these RNA messages within our platform, we can tell really fundamental things about pregnancy, like what organs are forming for the baby and how far along the pregnancy is.”

Incorporating RNA testing is a key way to personalize pregnancy care, she added. As an OB/GYN, Dr. Cowan realized that providers “just didn’t have the tools” to effectively predict which patients would experience complications during their pregnancies. This is a particularly serious problem because pregnancy complications are common — about one in five pregnancies is affected by some kind of complication, Dr. Cowan said.

If OB-GYNs have the technology to determine who is at risk for complications like preeclampsia and preterm birth, they can work with patients and their midwives to create a more specialized pregnancy care plan. Personalized care plans generally lead to better health outcomes for mothers and their newborns, Dr. Cowan noted.

For example, if a patient gets her RNA test results back and they show she’s at increased risk for preeclampsia, her OB-GYN might instruct her to take a baby aspirin once a day—a low-effort, low-risk move. which can do much to protect the mother and her baby’s health if administered early in pregnancy. The OB-GYN may also check the patient’s blood pressure more often or monitor the baby’s growth more closely, knowing that pregnancies that are affected by preeclampsia can also go hand-in-hand with the birth of smaller babies , which may need further monitoring, Dr. Cowan said.

But Mirvie isn’t the only company focused on personalized prenatal care — there are others, such as Bloomlife and Oula Health. Mirvie stands out from them with its focus on RNA, Dr. Cowan said. The company believes that RNA sequencing is one of the best tools that OB-GYNs can use to learn about the uniqueness of each of their patients’ pregnancies, which is why they are working to eventually bring RNA testing into OB-GYN offices. In the whole country.

Dr Cowan, who joined the company in August, said she was drawn to work at Mirvie after seeing research the company published in Nature this January. She was impressed by the “thousands and thousands” of RNA messages from pregnant women the company had analyzed. The study — which she said is the largest ever published looking at pregnancy RNA — showed that Mirvie’s RNA platform could identify 75 percent of women who develop preeclampsia months before their first symptoms appear.

The company continued to publish more research in April — this study published in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology demonstrated that the platform could accurately predict 76% of preterm birth cases, as well as flag different biological pathways leading to this problem.

Mirvie hasn’t provided a timeline for when the RNA tests it’s developing could be available to OB-GYNs on demand — the startup is currently focused on generating solid scientific evidence for its platform, Dr. Cowan said.

The test he is developing to predict preeclampsia received a breakthrough device designation from the Food and Drug Administration in May.

Photo: shironosov, Getty Images

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