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Rita Vassena, co-founder & CEO of Fecundis (Photo: Barcelona Science Park).

Fecundis, a medtech company specialising in fertility, starts up at the Barcelona Science Park

Fecundis, a medical technology company in the clinical phase, focused on the development of a disruptive technology to increase the success rate of infertility treatments, has initiated its activity in the Barcelona Science Park. The start-up company’s mission is to revolutionise assisted reproduction treatments by focusing on the sperm, with the aim of increasing treatment effectiveness and reducing the economic and psychological burden of infertility.

Fecundis is a start-up company which was founded in Spain in 2022 by a team with a scientific and business background with the dream of changing the way infertility is treated: international reproductive medicine expert Rita Vassena, and scientists Mariano Buffone and Dario Krapf, recognised leaders in sperm biology, with more than 50 years of cumulative experience in human fertility. The team is complemented by Matías Gómez Elías, a specialist in biological chemistry and technological development of fertilisation, and Guillermina Luque, an expert in reproduction and molecular biology.

“Fecundis was created with the mission of radically changing infertility treatments, under the premise that significant and transformative improvements in current treatments will necessarily come from a deep understanding of the molecular mechanisms of reproduction”, says Rita Vassena, the current CEO of the MedTech company.

Dr Vassena, the former Global Scientific Director of the Eugin Group, brings two decades of experience in the field of human fertility to Fecundis, having trained and worked in Italy, Canada, the United States and Spain. She has published more than 110 articles in high-impact international journals, and has been a member (2015-2019) of the Executive Committee of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the SEF – Sociedad Española de Fertilidad.

“Just a few days ago, the WHO reported that 1 in 6 people will suffer from infertility at some point in their lives. Currently, 180 million people are experiencing infertility, and over 90% of them do not have access to effective care; the small minority of patients who are able to get treatment face lengthy, costly and inefficient procedures that are often unsuccessful and leave many of them feeling disheartened. We believe that a world where infertility is diagnosed quickly, and where treatments are effective and accessible to all, is not only possible, but also urgent and necessary,” she says.

The male gamete, at the epicentre of the company’s technology

Fecundis strives to address this global clinical need by focusing on the development of technologies that increase the functionality of the human sperm, its ability to fertilise the egg and contribute to the development of embryos. This represents a momentous change from the procedures that are carried out today, which, according to Dr Vassena, are mainly focused on the selection of oocytes, spermatozoa or the resulting embryos. “Our approach is totally disruptive because it focuses on achieving unprecedented improvements in sperm performance from a functional point of view. By improving sperm function we achieve an exponential increase in the success rates of the treatments, we obtain more, better quality embryos, thus leading to a higher number of pregnancies. We have already tested this in two mammalian species, and we hope that these very promising results will be confirmed in the pilot trial in patients, which is now in its final phase of execution.”

Fecundis’ technology is compatible with all the usual techniques of assisted reproduction, “We have sought the feedback of the end users, clinical embryologists, at each stage of its development; the technology can integrate perfectly into the clinical workflow, and add value to both clinics and patients alike”.

The aim of the start-up is that its technology reaches both private and public health centres, explains the entrepreneur. “Increasing the efficiency and success rate of assisted reproduction procedures will result in a reduction in both their economic impact and the negative effect on mental health, as they are often long and expensive, and can lead to great emotional distress. Our goal is that the thousands of patients who are unable to get treatment can do so, reducing the barriers to access. We work so that infertility is no longer the gruelling experience people currently face.”

The technology, currently under protection phase, has enabled the development of a first medical device, HyperSperm, to activate sperm samples for IVF (in vitro fertilisation) and ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). Fecundis is currently in the capital raising phase to accelerate the entry of its first product to key markets.