One in eight families struggle with infertility, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. San Francisco-based Alife Health was founded in 2020 and is leveraging artificial intelligence and data to create personalized treatment insights so clinicians can make better decisions that maximize a patient’s chances of success while also lowering costs and barriers to IVF access.
“Many of us are touched by infertility,” Paxton Maeder-York, founder and CEO of Alife Health, told Crunchbase News. “Typically, IVF is expensive and time-consuming. It can cost an average of $10,000 to $12,000 per cycle and can take an average of three times. We aim to improve success rates across every cycle and bring costs down.”
Before Alife Health, Maeder-York was building surgical robots to fight lung cancer and decided to go back to school to study how AI and machine learning was impacting medicine. One of his focus areas was IVF and the impact on women and the LGBTQ+ community.
One of the biggest challenges to infertility is loss of control by the patient, Maeder-York said. While other companies are focusing on one process along the IVF journey, Alife is working to optimize every step using AI and personalized medicine.
“Starting a family is a personal experience, and if you can’t, it feels like you’ve also lost the ability to control the situation,” he added. “We are re-empowering the patient to make the best choices. If they have the right data, they may be able to make different decisions, such as banking more embryos. Here, the patient is an enormous stakeholder.”
He intends to deploy the new funds in pushing the company to its next stage. He believes Alife Health is already understanding what technology should be built and has received endorsements from doctors and partnerships. The company has 11 full-time employees, and Maeder-York plans to double that by the end of the year in order to scale up to a full ecosystem of platforms that will integrate
The next phase is getting the technology through regulatory submissions and out to patients. There are 500 fertility clinics across the United States, both private and academic institutions, and Alife has been working with some of the largest clinics to build a use case and unbiased dataset over the past year, Maeder-York said.
As part of the investment, Lux Partner Deena Shakir is joining the Alife board. Her focus is on women’s health, which she said is particularly salient. In addition, Alife is bringing equity and diversity into the fertility space that traditionally skewed to middle- and upper-class white families, she said in an interview.
“We’ve been looking at this space for a long time,” she said. “Their focus on health equity and diversity are a major issue with health care at-large, and we’ve seen that come out during COVID. Alife is building in the core of research and working with top academics who are specifically keeping that in check.”