Diagnio: Empowering Women Through Personalised Healthcare

Diagnio: Empowering Women Through Personalised Healthcare 

Marina Sol, Founder and CEO of at-home testing platform Diagnio, leverages technology to break barriers and transform women’s reproductive diagnostics and health.

What led you to establish Diagnio?

I’ve been working in healthcare for almost all of my career. I come from a family of doctors; my mother was a gynaecologist and thanks to her, I was born as one of the first IVF children in the Soviet Union. So, since I was a child, I knew that I wanted to work in a business that would use technology to transform healthcare as an industry. I realised that people know so little about their own health, while they know so much about everything else.

I also learned that the many exceptions or miracles, whichever way you want to call them, especially in women’s reproductive health, just tell us that healthcare relies [too much] on standards and protocols. Up until 20-30 years ago, healthcare research and drug testing were solely about white men; but as technology allows for more precision, individualised healthcare, exceptions just become personal features. 

With that in mind, I got an education in business, technology, and biochemistry. I worked with a couple of big pharmaceutical companies, with health companies as clients, and I started my own business in medical devices, all while pursuing my mission to individualise healthcare.

Then, during COVID, consumers finally got into the habit of testing themselves at home. Meanwhile, technology evolved so that we could extract good data from those at-home connectable biomarkers. And while viruses come and go, other subjects, like hormones, proteins, and vitamins, are with us daily and form who we are. That was all the more interesting to me that women’s health, and women’s health diagnostics in particular, are underserved – it can take you seven years to get a diagnosis of endometriosis, for example. In addition, women in the workforce don’t have the time to go to the lab when needed, whereas the three most important tests that women should take must be made on certain days, ideally with a certain continuity. These two facts don’t work together.

So, at-home testing for hormonal health could be a solution, as long as it’s easy, comfortable, non-invasive, and private – especially in the GCC region where there’s still a stigma around reproductive health issues. 

We did a lot of bootstrapping at the beginning, before receiving pre-seed financing from US-based accelerators. Then, when we moved to the UAE, we joined Flat6Labs and received several angel investments. We’re now preparing our seed round with more institutional investors.

How does Diagnio’s solution work for a customer?

For now, we’re focusing on fertility. If you’re planning a pregnancy, the first step is to monitor your ovulation. So, we help women monitor this fertility window for several consecutive months, after which they can go to the doctor if they don’t get pregnant, instead of waiting for years. They’ll also be able to present their recorded data to act more quickly.

We provide a testing device and test strips that detect hormonal levels in the saliva, at home and in a matter of minutes – which is much more comfortable than a blood or urine test. The results automatically appear on our mobile application. This app also records other data points that are important for a better recommendation, such as stress levels and anxiety levels, as well as data from wearables if you use any. We combine these three data sources to give you a much more personalised answer on what your chances of conceiving now are, or if something is wrong and you should see a doctor.

How did you develop this solution?

I have some background in biochemistry, so I could make sense of the technology, but I asked our current lead biochemist to join us and we conducted research together.

For the first product, in partnership with our manufacturer, we have done clinical trials in an accredited hospital in South Korea, one of the three big markets for medical device manufacturing; this allowed us to be listed as an FDA Class 1 device. We’re now expecting clearance from the Abu Dhabi Health Authority, which will be another big milestone for us.

What’s your revenue model and your schedule for officially launching the product?

There’s an initial payment for the device, and then a subscription for the test trips can be paid upfront or monthly for the duration that the user requires.

We launched the pre-orders in August and we’ve started manufacturing. The first commercial batch will be delivered by the end of March. Part of our go-to-market strategy will be building awareness and acceptance from doctors – we already work with a gynaecologist and soon with fertility specialists and endocrinologists – to get them to recommend the product. 

And we’re talking directly to consumers with social content activities around innovations in hormonal and reproductive health. When we started communicating in Arabic, the response was overwhelming, with a big spike in interest from Saudi Arabia.

Are you planning to expand the types of testing that you’ll offer?

Today, we’re offering test strips for oestrogen, the hormone that regulates ovulation. In parallel, we’re doing our own R&D to grow our women’s health specialisation. This year, we’ll add at least three more hormones that regulate other aspects of women’s reproductive health, such as postpartum depression, perimenopause, and menopause symptoms. 

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