Beyond Genomix: One test away from solving infertility issues
The story behind Beyond Genomix
Myriam wishes for a world where individuals can easily access genetic analyses and customize their treatments based on their fertility profiles. This, combined with the idea of giving doctors the possibility to compare patient profiles globally in order to determine the most effective treatment protocols, is an idea that came to her mind: to launch Beyond Genomix to address the need of those suffering from infertility, mainly due to cancer. Her ambition aligns with her time when the biotech industry is experiencing a boom in genetic analyses.
Everything began during her master's thesis at the National University of Singapore; Myriam Merarchi focused on discovering anti-cancer drug candidates from Chinese traditional medicine, which led her to study the molecular effects of candidates to identify suitable options for clinical studies.
Surprisingly, she and her professor received many emails from cancer patients worldwide who were interested in testing their products, given their focus on being "natural." While unable to respond to all the inquiries, this experience planted a seed in her mind, leading her to question why molecular-level analyses were central to drug discovery. Indeed, patients still lacked access to personalized treatment based on such analyses.
A gap in the industry or an opportunity
Genes, representing just 1% of our DNA, have monopolized the attention of 99.99% of the world's companies. In response, Myriam and her team have decided to set their sights on non-coding DNA. Specialized in Telomeres analysis, which are the non-coding repeated DNA sequences representing 10% of our DNA, Beyond Gemonix has become a leader in today's market. Beyond Genomics aims to provide a response adapted to individuals who have cancer by combining the scientific knowledge from physicists, mathematicians, and biologists to deliver the most scalable telomeres analysis technology.
Infertility - a cause that deserves attention
Despite that, infertility is the most common medical condition in adults, and its rates are increasing yearly around the world, especially those of idiopathic infertility. Diagnosis and treatment of infertility is still not considered a public health issue yet.
The reason for this lack of consideration for this condition is that having a child is perceived as a desire, not a necessity. However, it has been scientifically proven that today's infertile patients are at higher risk of developing multiple diseases later in their lives, which will weigh on the governmental or insurance budgets. As known, today's infertility patients could potentially become tomorrow's patients dealing with conditions such as cancer or diabetes. Hence infertility should be addressed, as it is a public issue.
As Myriam explains it, the onset of a disease at the biological level requires a complex interplay among various molecular pathways. However, the significance of each path and its contribution to a particular disease can vary. Notably, in the case of female infertility, the most prominent dysregulated pathway is associated with DNA damage repair. Recognizing that telomeres act as essential biomarkers for DNA damage repair, Beyond Genomix decided to focus on applying their technology for infertility diagnosis and diagnostics.
Simple to use
Myriam not only developed a solution that considers individuals' specific conditions but also makes her tests accessible worldwide and easy to use. By ordering online, patients receive a complete sampling kit at their doorstep, including all the necessary materials for a simple blood draw from the tip of their fingers. Return shipping fees are already included in the price, ensuring a headache-free process. Alternatively, patients can also visit a medical office or clinic for the procedure.
Once the test is completed, the Beyond Genomix team uses machine learning technology to compare the patient's data with two databases: one consisting of a healthy fertile population and the other containing information from infertile patients of the same age and sex. The test stands out as the only one on the market capable of accurately distinguishing between fertile and infertile individuals with a precision rate exceeding 95%, detecting even cases of idiopathic infertility. This is made possible as, unlike other tests that provide quantitative data, Beyond Genomix's analysis focuses on indicators of oocyte and sperm quality, such as telomeres, among other biomarkers. Once the results are obtained, doctors assist the patients by selecting personalized treatment options, saving them time and money and improving their physical and mental health.
Beyond Genomix had to differentiate itself from those promising more than it could offer.
The team is already working with two clinics while being officially incorporated for two months only. Indeed, the team is up to significant milestones as they signed with a first Swiss clinic less than a month after their start!
Myriam expects to grow the company's direct customer base as she believes that the D2C and online services will be tomorrow's way of operating, along with people willing to be more in control of their health.
Beyond Genomix's team is proud of having auto-financed the company and to have been one of the rare start-ups financially supported by the Swiss innovation agency and the Swiss Ministry of Economy. By being part of the Tech4Eva cohort, Beyond Genomix expects to connect with the ecosystem at international events such as the Vivatech 2023 in June, a unique opportunity for them to access industry leaders.
During the program, Myriam and her team aim to establish more collaboration while strengthening her company strategy and gaining patient visibility. She says: "At the end of the day, the patients are at the core of what "we" do."
Myriam's vision on entrepreneurship
“Just do it! There is no perfect moment to start a company, yet here are no shortcuts to success. You will face many challenges and hardships, but as long as you keep moving forward, you will be unstoppable, and the journey is worth it.”