Based in Japan, biotech startup DioseveThe ambitious goal is to grow human eggs or eggs from other tissues. Its goal is to help people struggling with infertility, and it recently raised $3 million led by ANRI, with the participation of Coral Capital.
Dioseve’s mission may sound like it came out of science fiction, but it’s based on a scientific technique called induced pluripotent cell stem cells (iPS), which was first developed in 2006.
The startup’s scientific advisor, Dr. Nobuhiko Hamazaki, a research specialist at the University of Washington, created Dioseve’s technology, called DIOLs (Direct Induced Egg-Like Cells), which can massively turn iPS cells into egg cells. DIOLs are currently being tested and have been published in the scientific journal Nature.
The new funding will allow Dioseve to hire more people and accelerate its research and development. It aims to establish proof-of-concept by giving mice birth with DIOL-produced eggs, and recently set up a new lab in Tokyo and hired an iPS specialist.
Like dr. Hamazaki explains, induced pluripotent stem cells can be used to grow all cells in the body. For example, other researchers are finding ways to use iPS to grow organs outside the body, induce beta cells in the pancreas in an effort to cure diabetes, and generate neural stem cells to heal spinal cord injuries. iPS cells can be made from tissue such as muscle or blood cells.
DIOLs first make primordial germ cells, the source of sperm and egg cells. It differentiates between them to find oogonia, or the precursor of egg cells, and then introduces genes into the iPS cells. This means that people dealing with infertility may be able to use DIOLs to have offspring with their own genetic material.
dr. Hamazaki said that in the case of mice, it usually takes 30 days to get eggs, and that it can take up to six months for human eggs.
Dioseve’s CEO is Kazuma Kishida, who became interested in biotechnology when he was diagnosed with hepatitis C as a teenager. At the time, the available treatment had severe side effects and a low response rate, so his doctor told him to wait a few years as there were in the United States a new drug was developed. After three years, Kishida received treatment and cured his hepatitis C. “That drug has really changed and contributed to the world,” he said. “I wanted to do something that could change the world the way the new drug did.”
Kishida said Dioseve paid close attention to the safety and ethics of DIOLs by conducting discussions with potential patients and scientific and medical ethics specialists. At the moment, it is monitoring the inheritance effect of the technology: can it not only produce healthy babies, but also prevent health problems in subsequent generations?
“We are serious about ethics. We have to be very careful because this technology can be applied to the process of making a child,” said Dr. can apply this technology.”
Dioseve isn’t the only biotech startup researching ways to grow human eggs. Others include Ivy Natal and Conception, both based in San Francisco, who are also developing ways to grow eggs from other cells. Dioseve says his competitive advantage is research progress and usability.