Don’t get me wrong, babies are cute. But you know what’s not cute? Birth. Periods. Postpartum depression. HORMONES. Endometriosis. The uterus. Pregnancy. Pelvic pain. Tumors. Reproductive diseases. Our ignorance of diagnosing and treating reproductive diseases.
The list, unfortunately, goes WAYYYYYYYY on.
Being a woman is complicated. Our monthly hormone cycle looks like this:
A pregnant woman’s hormones look like this on any given day(basically):
On top of hormones, millions — even billions of women suffer from the uterus. Now, the uterus helps create life, so we really can’t get too mad at it. But, virtually every woman will be affected by some gynecological disorder, and most of them have no cure.
Endometriosis is an example. It impacts 11% of menstruating women. In the US, endometriosis (7.6M) impacts 13 times as many people that cancer kills (<600,000). Yet, endometriosis(7M) receives 714x less research money than cancer (~5B) per year.
13X MORE PEOPLE ARE IMPACTED. There needs to be more funding.
Except, despite the fact that this disease impacts millions of women (200M to be exact), only 20% of people have heard about it. Women are suffering in silence.
Endometriosis is just one of many painful diseases women go through. If you want to learn about a handful of other gynecological diseases that impact billions.
Doctors tell women things like, “Periods are supposed to hurt. It’s a woman’s lot in life to suffer.” As a result, endometriosis is often not diagnosed: on average it takes 8 years to get an accurate reading. I wrote a more in-depth article on endometriosis 😉.
Problems with reproductive diseases:
- Impact tons of women, but there is no funding, so research is limited and smart people normally go where the money is at (cancer, heart disease, diabetes). Lack of smart people is a problem too.
- We can’t properly diagnose most things involving the uterus (medical imaging = 🥴)
- There are no cures to most reproductive disease
- Women are just told, “this is part of being a woman”.
- Our “treatments” are often a choice between getting rid of the pain but lose fertility, or being fertile but still in pain/poor health.
- BUT, when women do get pregnant there’s a whole load of challenges that come with that too, I wrote an article about that too 🤪.
If you relate to any of these GIFs, you’re not alone.
How the heck can we even begin to attempt to solve this MASSIVE issue??
We identify why women’s health sucks and solve it.
They have to choose between treating their gynecological diseases or being fertile(because let’s forbid women to have children without experiencing pelvic pain for the rest of her life) If you want more science-y details, read here.
And now, Ammorra comes in.
Who? What? How?
Ammorra is tackling the ambitious goal of resolving the issues/barriers in women’s reproductive health. We’re creating the future we want for women.
So women don’t just have to “live with the pain”, while, having no clue what tf their uterus is up to.
We want to solve these two main problems:
- Monitoring/understanding the female reproductive system
- Improving fertility/ability to reproduce
All gynecological diseases relate back to menstruation and the uterus, which exists for the reasons of reproduction. We want to change the way we work with the uterus and the options of reproduction.
Considering we have two main goals, let’s break up how we’re achieving each of the goals:
One of our problems is that we diagnose gynecological diseases too late.
For example, 1/3 of women somewhat respond to hormone therapies for endometriosis (to be clear, this is pain relief, not a cure).
The other 2/3’s don’t respond at all so their only option to relieve pain is a hysterectomy. If we can monitor abnormal tissue growth in the uterus, we can diagnose endometriosis and other diseases sooner. The sooner we diagnose, the easier it is to treat.
We will introduce prepartum monitoring: using nanosensors (specifically carbon nanotubes), Ammorra will detect early stage tissue abnormalities and other abnormalities like endometriosis or fibroids. We’re taking molecules (carbon), and turning them into a protective army for your uterus!
Carbon nanosensors are being utilized to search for ovarian cancer, but we can use them to search for non-cancers like endometriosis, polyps, and endometrial hyperplasia, which are also dangerous.
Warning: Science-y info coming up🔭🧐
How carbon nanotubes as biosensors work:
Carbon nanotubes have one fascinating property that makes them ideally suited for use as highly sensitive sensors: they are nothing but surface. Their walls could not be any thinner because they consist of a single layer of carbon atoms.
The entire nanotube is thus exposed to its environment; not a single one of its atoms is protected inside it. And if foreign molecules bind (i.e. foreign tissue, excess chemical messengers) to the surface of a carbon nanotube, this influences its overall characteristics.
In particular, its electrical resistance changes sharply if molecules attach themselves to its surface. This is explained by the structure of a nanotube: its carbon atoms form a regular lattice reminiscent of a honeycomb.
This means that each carbon atom contributes an electron to an electron cloud that extends over the entire tube and allows electrons to move through it unimpeded. They conduct electricity very well.
If a foreign molecule binds to one of the nanotube carbon atoms, it interrupts the honeycomb pattern at this spot. In this way, the attachment disrupts the free passage of electrons over the surface of the tiny carbon tube. This puts a baffle in the track the electrons are racing around, and the tube’s electrical resistance increases. The more foreign molecules stick to the nanotube, the more the resistance rises.
Science-y stuff over 😎😝
Things the sensors could detect: (including but not limited to 🙄)
- abnormal tissues or cell behaviors
- Irregular hormone patterns
- Level of chemokines or cytokines (growth factors in the blood, often causing the growth of abnormal things)
- misplaced/deformed uterus
- The sensors will be able to track your menstrual cycle, amount of blood, and any discharge. No more manual tracking 🤯(we’re taking clue out of business). No more surprises 🥳.
- Inflammation in the pelvic region
3 types of monitoring:
(already mentioned above but…) 1)Pre-partum monitoring: checking for abnormalities in the uterus.
2)Pregnancy monitoring: nanosensors can track fetal development, ectopic pregnancies, hormone levels, and placental health.
Pregnant women’s bodies are very fragile because they’re growing a human, duh. But, too much or little hormones can be detrimental. That’s why we’ll use nanosensors to keep track of the hormones in a pregnant woman’s body and make sure they’re up at constant, healthy levels.
Pregnant women will know exactly what chemicals their bodies are producing. We will understand the uterus like never before.
We will also be able to track fetal development such as knowing where the fetus is growing if it’s getting enough energy and if it’s an ectopic pregnancy etc.
3) Postpartum monitoring: after the baby has torn mommy’s cervix or ripped open her stomach, we want to ensure fast, smooth recovery. Ammorra will do this by, again, monitoring hormones, blood clotting, and continuing with disease detection.
The female body is complex, but as we start to understand it more with nanosensors, we can change the way we take care of the pelvic region AND cure these dang diseases.
Part 2: Fertility
Unfortunately, tons of times we’re too late. We find diseases late and the only option is a hysterectomy (removing uterus), therefore, infertility.
We also can’t stop the body from producing tons of hormones during pregnancy, and we can’t take away the pain from pushing a ten-pound baby out of your body.
That’s why we want to give EVERYONE the option to have painless babies. We want to reinvent the womb. And the sperm. And the egg.
And… introducing artificial wombs.
You may have heard of the research study that took premature lambs and developed them. That’s sort of what we’re expecting to do. But with humans...
We’re developing artificial placenta environments (aka artificial wombs) where we supply nutrients and oxygen-rich blood to the developing fetus via the umbilical vein. And remove its blood full of waste products through the umbilical arteries. It’s essentially replicating the placenta.
We’ll also need the womb to breathe for the baby, along with several other tasks, a more detailed rundown on our technology is coming soon!
The tech will be ready to treat undeveloped babies born around the 24 + week period in approx 5 years. Our first goal is to provide an alternative environment(artificial womb)for premature babies to continue developing.
12% of births are dangerously premature, but this number is rising. Women are on average getting higher levels of education, thus postponing when they have children. The older they are, the more likely they’re to have twins or more babies at once.
Twins, triplets, etc, are 6 times more likely to be premature, so, if twins are becoming more common, prematurity rates will increase.
The older women are, the more dangerous their pregnancy is, and there is an increase in complications. Should there be complications, our wombs will be able to take babies not prepared for birth at all (less than 34 weeks), and develop them until they are ready.
Harnessing our nanotech monitoring technology, we can also track the fetus’s growth, determine what nutrients and proteins it’s missing, to continue nourishing it with personalization.
Part 2 of our artificial womb goal is in-vitro fertilizing an embryo, but, instead of putting it inside a mother to develop, we’ll actually grow it in an artificial womb. The mother won’t be pregnant at all.
We will ensure the baby is growing in an environment identical to or better than the placenta — with more personalized nutrition, health monitoring, and development tracking.
This technology is being worked on with lambs, and in the future, Ammorra’s will completely disrupt reproduction.
We will be able to fuse any sperm and egg, create an embryo, and grow that embryo the same way any ol’ embryo grows — the placenta.
Step 1: egg+ sperm… once that happens…
It takes approximately 2 -10 days after fertilization for the embryo to reach the blastocyst stage.
In 16–25 days, the neuro tube (first organ) will form. This is the beginning of the 🧠 forming. Up until this point, all the action has been on a petri dish… time to move the embryo into the artificial womb.
In the womb, the heart and lungs will begin to form, the baby will develop as if was in the placenta.
We do this with amniotic fluid surrounding your baby. It’s essential to its growth and development because the fluid:
- Keeps your baby at the right temperature
- Protects the baby against shocks from outside the womb
- Provides space for the baby to move and develop its muscles and lungs
The placenta has many jobs like thermal regulation, nutrient uptake, and infection-fighting… yup, Ammorra will have all that, and more covered.
TL;DR Creating artificial wombs:
- Goal: create an artificial placenta that does everything and beyond of a regular placenta
- Create artficial wombs to develop premature babies (babies in the 24+ week stage)
- Once we get that technology rolling… turn an embryo into a baby without ever entering a human.
On top of this… we’re creating artificial sperm and eggs. So literally anyone can have children. I’ll tell you about that now.
Re-invented sperm and eggs 🐠🍳
(sorry for the overload of emojis hahaha, changing the world can get overwhelming so we like to add tons of fun-ness at Ammorra😅)
This is going to sound silly, but we can turn skin cells into eggs and sperms. Actually, we can do that with any somatic cell. How?
We reprogram them.
We inject the cells with genes that transform any cell into an induced pluripotent stem cell. The genes we give them generate proteins called transcription factors. By adding the right factors artificially, a cell of one type can be tricked into thinking it’s a different type (i.e. iPS).
Skin cells + transcription factors = iPS cells
Then we half the amount of chromosomes in the iPS cells… because of meiosis ;). Once we have gametes (“half cells”), we’ll exert the chemical signals from ovarian tissue or testicular tissue, to influence the cells into becoming either sperms or eggs. Since iPSCs can become any cell, we need to convince them to become sperm or egg cells.
It’s basically peer pressure but for cells.
This will not only change the face of reproduction, but it will allow us to create embryonic stem cells (or magic!!) in labs. Embryonic stem cells are crazy freaking dope you can read about one use case for them here. ✨
Body cells → iPSC cell → divide chromosomes → gamete+ ovarian or testicular tissues → sperm or egg
Sperm and eggs can be created by anyone. A female’s skin cell can create a sperm cell, for example. A male’s liver cell can create a viable egg. This is a chance for LGBTQ couples, infertile couples, etc to reproduce. As long as you have some functioning body cell, you can have a sperm/egg.
And there you have it. Reproducing reproduction with two simple goals: monitoring & fertility.
- Improve knowledge of women’s health, pre, during, and postpartum. Also, decrease the amount of pelvic pain in women’s lives. No more “just dealing with it”.
- Make reproduction safer (re-invented wombs) for both the mother and the baby. Decrease prematurity and other forms of improper development.
- Spread fertility everywhere. Anyone can have 🚼’s.