Dioseve lands funding to advance female reproductive longevity

Company aims to extend female fertility window with technology that grows human eggs from stem cells.

Japanese biotech Dioseve has successfully raised $7 million in new funding to further develop its assisted reproductive technology that derives human eggs, or oocytes, from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The Tokyo-based company claims its approach can quickly produce a high yield of fertilizable egg cells at a minimal cost, which could enable new strategies for preserving and restoring female fertility.

Dioseve’s technology addresses long-standing challenges in assisted reproductive medicine, which has seen limited innovation since the advent of in vitro fertilization (IVF) 45 years ago. Fertility treatment outcomes have traditionally depended heavily on individual health conditions and age, often forcing women to make life choices based on optimal reproductive age, such as choosing between pursuing a career or having children. The company says it is on a mission to address these constraints, offering women the ability to plan for motherhood on their terms, regardless of age.

Dioseve was founded by Washington University researcher Dr Nobuhiko Hamazaki, who developed the core technology behind the company’s approach: directly induced oocyte-like cells (DIOLs). The technique involves introducing specific genes into iPSCs to rapidly produce oocytes without the need for expensive growth factors or advanced techniques, potentially allowing for cost-effective and large-scale production.

Hamazaki and his team identified eight critical transcription factors through gene expression analysis and functional screenings using an in vitro mouse oocyte development system. By enforcing the expression of these factors, they found they were able to swiftly convert pluripotent stem cells into functional oocyte-like cells. These cells demonstrated viability through their ability to be fertilized and undergo subsequent cleavage.

The researchers also found the conversion process bypasses the need for primordial germ cell specification, epigenetic reprogramming, or meiosis, suggesting that oocyte growth and DNA methylation processes are distinct from the prior epigenetic reprogramming typically seen in primordial germ cells.

The funding round was led by Spiral Capital and Archetype Ventures, with contributions from ANRI, ASKA Pharmaceutical Co., and other investors. The round brings Dioseve’s total funding to approximately $10 million, and will be used to further the company’s research and development efforts, and to expand its workforce for global expansion.

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