Carmel Diagnostics - The power of oxidative stress in embryo selection in the IVF process
We recently interviewed Tzali Cnaani, Founder & CEO of Carmel Diagnostics
The background of Tzali is a long epic story. First of all, he studied physics and later on during his military service, he moved to the computer software sector and continued working in that sector in different roles, but mainly for information systems for many years. After that, he joined a start-up, a time when not a lot of people knew how to implement a start-up. The project of that company was to sell Israel software in the international market. Following that, he was named Executive VP for a computer communication company and then CEO for a company that was a world leader in Computerized Dairy Management Systems.
At one point, he joined a company called Lumitest, predecessor of Carmel Diagnostics. They developed thus a device to measure oxidative stress mostly for infertlity problems at first and then they wanted to use it for different medical situations, mainly for diagnosis, prognosis and treatment monitoring. Later on, the owners of that company had some problems with other businesses and that’s how Tzali acquired the assets and so the rights of the company to form what is nowadays Carmel Diagnostics.
About Carmel Diagnostics
A lot of studies on many different diseases were made in developing Carmel Diagnostics. For instance, they did a successful study on Risk stratification of heart failure including about 3 or 4 pilot studies on the cardiovascular system. Then, after having very good results on studies about embryo selection, they decided to focus on the application on this approach, by measuring oxidative stress. Nowadays, they have the system ready to be sold, but they’re trying to raise more money in order to bring the product in the market. Furthermore, it is important to highlight that they received grants from the Israel Innovation Authority in the past and also in 2014 from the giant Pharma Company Merck Serono in order to gather with their partners. One of them is a Spanish company called IVI Valencia, one of the biggest IVF clinic networks in the world. In 2017, they received a major grant from Horizon 2020 a European Program with which they have developed the current generation of their system, the one ready to enter in the market.
What is oxidative stress and how can it be useful?
Oxidative stress is the disturbance in the balance between the production of free radicals and antioxidant defences. Concerning fertility, it is a powerful bio-marker of embryo viability. With their system Fertissimo, they can also examine multiple embryos in parallel, without disrupting an embryo. Analysis time is extremely short, taking no more than ten minutes for each embryo.
Hence, their system is a powerful enabling system that rapidly highlights the most viable embryos to conceive in IVF-induced pregnancy. By testing the levels of oxidative stress in the media, in which the embryo is incubated, this system can make a non-invasive analysis of the embryo’s reproductive potential.
On the other hand, analyzing oxidative stress can be useful for many applications using the same device. In fact, it has been implicated in scientific literature as a major factor in various diseases diagnosis such as Risk stratification of heart failure patients (their successful study), in early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in early identification of preeclampsia, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, age-related macular degeneration, and renal failure or traumatic brain injuries.
Questions asked to Tzaali:
What were you afraid of when you began Carmel Diagnostics?
“The first issue was that we were always underfinanced besides the major grant received from the EU. Second, I was afraid of the outcome of this project because when you talk about technology, you never know how performing your product will be in the market. However, they were not really fears, but more worries that everybody creating a company/start-up has to have in his/her mind.”
Describe your goals?
“The main goal is to bring the device to the market. There is a big interest in the market, but the main problem remains competition and that’s the case in every kind of business. After that, our ambition and goal will be to use oxidative stress for other women diseases such as preeclampsia and endometriosis using the same system,we are using now for embryo selection.”
What are the challenges in the Israeli market?
“We call Israel-the Start-up Nation-there are many new ideas and a real atmosphere of entrepreneurship. At the same time, there is a huge competition of talents and big demand for innovation.
We are a small country with all the tools, but sometimes it’s better to run a start-up outside of Israel because investors there prefer to offer grants for safe projects and hence take less risk. Exploring more opportunities outside Israel is important to expand into more markets.”
How is Tech4Eva’s program useful to you?
“Taking part to Tech4Eva is an opportunity to be exposed to potential investors, partners and distributors. We can take part in workshops and presentations about different tools of how to run a start-up. We can always learn useful things, meet mentors in the industry or in venture capital who can also be potential investors or have the knowledge in our specific sector area. It’s also a bonus to meet other founders in very close areas with which you share and discuss your similar problems and also discover new tools.”
For more information on Carmel Diagnostics, visit the website: https://www.carmel-diagnostics.com