"In the past two years and mostly due to COVID-19 wider effect, the need for technological solutions focused on women's health is rising", says Dr. Laurent Choppe, Managing Partner at Tel Aviv based Cukierman & Co. Life Sciences, "Since 2021, we saw a dramatic change in the number of Femtech startups approaching us for strategic transactions in global markets, mainly in medical aesthetics and telehealth solutions. While the global funding for Femtech startups exceeded $2.5 billion in 2021, there is still work to be done to get the awareness of the investors to the great benefits and business potential in this field. The Israeli Femtech is relatively young but we are hoping to see the first Israeli Femtech unicorn in the coming years". Let's explore some of Israel's FemMedTech on this Women's Health Week.
Women around the world undergo 13 million medical or cosmetic breast procedures and surgeries, every year. Yet, there is no standard for post-op care. While the techniques used in breast surgeries have improved drastically over the years, post-surgery recovery solutions sadly, remained unchanged, until now with EZbra. EZbra is a patented, sterile, and absorptive, all-in-one, compression breast bra that is tackling the challenges that arise post-breast procedures both esthetic and medical.
EZbra enables surgeons to address patient discomfort immediately following surgeries and its quick, simple application saves time in the operating room, and improves the recovery experience, allowing patients to recover with dignity. What is special about the breast dressing is its controlled compression (adjust various compression levels to fit each patient's specific needs), absorption(low adherent, sterile and absorbing multilayer occlusive dressing) easy application (easy and fast dressing post-op, designed to reduce operation-room time and recurring clinic visits), drain management (stabilizing drain tubes and holding drain bulb), tailor-made (allows for individual design of the breast and definition of breast folds), and adhesive-free (made to reduce allergic reactions and medical adhesive skin injuries.
The company’s vision is to empower women by giving them control over their healing and recovery journeys whether it involves breastfeeding discontinuation, radiotherapy burns, or many other indignities women face throughout their lives. They want to reshape the entire wound care industry since there is a lack of sterile and disposable compression bras. As EZbra is the first and only solution combining absorption and compression, it addresses needs currently covered by a combination of several products. Customers dealing with breast cancer and going through the constant surgeries needed have found comfort in the EZbra.
EZbra was founded in 2015 by Efrat Roman who came up with the idea while recovering from breast cancer. The Femtech company, located in Tel Aviv, has raised $7 million to date, and is in the early commercialization stages, offering its product in more than 20 countries around the globe.
Gynica is a medical company at the forefront of therapeutic cannabis research in the field of women’s health; they are changing the culture of gynecological treatment through clinically proven, cannabinoid-based solutions. Gynica's team develops medical treatments based on innovative technology and an advanced understanding of the pharmacological effects of cannabinoids that target specifically female symptoms and diseases.
Led by Professor Moshe Hod, an internationally renowned expert in the field of women’s health, Gynica brings scientifically proven and thoroughly tested solutions to pressing health issues unique to women. Scientific research has shown that the cannabis plant is unique for women, as after the brain, the female reproductive system is the organ with the most endocannabinoid receptors in the human body. Taking advantage of that fact, Gynica is developing clinically validated products for unmet needs in the field of women’s health. 3 out of 4 women suffer from severe menstrual pain and painful intercourse at some stage of their lives, and 1 in 10 women (more than 200 million women worldwide) suffer from Endometriosis, yet none of these issues are properly addressed by big pharma nor the scientific community. Gynica’s product line consists of a vaginal suppository and a lubricating gel, aiming to treat these conditions. The similar products on the market have not been proven to be safe or efficacious in objective clinical studies, nor have they gone through the long R&D processes that Gynica is pursuing later this year.
Gynica is a spin-off of Asana Bio Group, now a holding company specializing in scientific advancements in the field of medical cannabis, which also established Gynica’s strategic R&D partner, Lumir Lab. The company has raised more than $4 million so far, including from its strategic partner Tikun Olam Pharmaceuticals, the pioneers in medical cannabis, and from the first cannabis fund in Japan. The company’s labs are based in Ramat Gan.
OCON Healthcare is developing highly innovative women’s health solutions, inspired by women’s anatomy, that are specifically designed to be safe, comfortable, easily usable, and highly effective. The company has developed a next-generation drug delivery platforms to promote women’s uterine health safely and effectively treating widespread conditions such as endometriosis (one in ten women), myomas/fibroids (seven in ten women), cancers, heavy and abnormal uterine bleeding (one in three women), all to steer clear of harmful oral formulations and debilitating hospital procedures.
OCON’s 3D “smart” drug-delivery platform is the ideal carrier for any drug or substance to be introduced directly to the target tissue to treat various women’s health conditions. Today, traditional contraception and therapies for endometriosis, myomas, and heavy/abnormal menstrual bleeding are mainly hormonal and often oral, causing long-term systemic side effects; second-line procedures or techniques are often invasive (can lead to up to 25% Hysterectomies), costly, and not applicable and/or not accessible to all women since they require a hospital setting and expensive capital equipment. That is why OCON Healthcare is introducing new technologies that would allow essentially all women in need to get a solution that fits their anatomy, has fewer side effects, and is more targeted, faster, and uncomplicated all done within their community with their trusted OBGYN or midwife. As Keren Leshem, CEO of OCON Healthcare, stated “It is time for women, who are disproportionately burdened by chronic conditions, to stop carrying the burden of unwanted side-effects and adverse reactions to treatments.”
OCON Healthcare was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in Modiin, Israel. To date, they have raised $22 million and helped over 120,000 women across Europe, Israel, and Parts of Africa. The team at OCON Healthcare is made up of 85% women, who are dedicated to bringing women-centric solutions to the market that are specifically designed for women by women.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) affects nearly 50% of women over 40 years old globally, with that number expected to increase by 46% by 2050. It is a condition where the muscles or ligaments supporting a woman’s pelvic organs weaken, causing one or more pelvic organs to slip down from their normal position into the vagina. Women with POP suffer from reduced quality of life due to pain and discomfort. Associated issues such as urinary and bowel problems, pulling or stretching in the lower back, lumps coming out of the vagina, sexual discomfort, and pelvic pressure have an enormous psychological and social impact.
Despite the high prevalence of POP and its progressive nature, which normally deteriorates to the point of requiring an invasive surgical procedure, there are limited treatment options for its diagnoses in earlier stages. The main treatment: relying on pelvic floor exercises or supporting devices like pessaries. These devices do not repair POP and have side effects like infections and vaginal bleeding. Surgical intervention when the POP symptoms worsen comes with relapse as high as 25%. Escala Medical has developed an early-stage POP repair solution dubbed the Apyx. Apyx repairs prolapse and restores pelvic anatomy in a non-surgical, incision-free manner. It uses an anchor, suture, and securing element to fixate the vaginal apex permanently to a pelvic ligament, all the while being minimally non-invasive and mesh-free. The procedure with Apyx lasts less than 10 minutes, can be performed under mild local anesthesia, and may also be the only solution for poor surgical candidates and patients avoiding surgery.
Escala was founded in November 2014 by Dr. Douglas Scherr and Dr. Roger Goldberg–two seasoned urogynaecology and urology surgeons, who realized the long-overdue need for an early-stage POP repair solution. To date, they have raised $3.7 million from the Israel Innovation Authority and private investors, with Edit Goldberg as the CEO. Apyx is expected to be commercialized in the U.S., and in the EU in 2023. They are located in the Galilee region in northern Israel.
Ayana Pharma has developed a liposomal nano-technology oncology drug, not like standard chemotherapy; it targets the release of chemotherapy at the tumour site, enabling lower exposure of normal healthy tissues, thereby providing improved efficacy and prevention of major toxicity adverse effects of chemotherapy. This technology is feasible because the liposomal nanoparticles that contain the chemotherapy exit the bloodstream via porous blood vessels in the tumour tissue, where Ammonia, which is uniquely generated by the tumour metabolome, induces the selective release of the chemotherapeutic agent from the liposomes at the tumour site. The technology has treated over 1 million women and was the 1st FDA-approved nano-drug that is used for several indications including ovarian cancer and metastatic breast cancer, both major causes of woman mortality.
Ayana Pharma was founded in 2012 by Prof. Chezy Barenholz (inventor of the 1st FDA-approved nano-technology drug) to develop nano-technology therapeutics for the treatment of cancer. Ayana’s leading nano-cancer drug was approved by FDA in 2021 and launched in the US market by our US strategic partner, Padagis. The nano-drug is manufactured in Israel at an FDA accredited manufacturing facility. So far, over $25 million has been invested in the company.