The story focused on my Boston-based biotech start-up, LifeStory Health (LSH), which is developing technology to use menstrual blood to look for novel biomarkers of women’s health in the menstrual blood proteome.
The benefits of this approach are that menstrual blood is unique to women, who have historically been understudied in healthcare clinical trials.
LifeStory Health’s emphasis on sex-specific testing has garnered a tremendous amount of positive feedback and readers have requested to learn more.
The most popular question I get, which was also asked during the interview is, “Is Menstrual Blood better than Circulating Blood?” My answer, with more detail, is below.
Rather than asking if menstrual blood is better, we should be asking “does menstrual blood have clinical utility?”
LSH’s approach is based on evidence that supports the differentiation of menstrual blood from circulating blood. This is important because the scientific community needs more sex-specific testing.
The fact that sex-specific testing is not more readily practiced in scientific and clinical research has caught the eyes and ears of many people, for a very good reason.
As the medical community is already aware, certain diseases impact women differently than men, yet many clinical trials focus on male research subjects.
- Alzheimer’s Disease: According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than two-thirds of the 5 million sufferers of the disease are women, yet brain studies in males outnumber women 5 to 1.
- Cardiovascular Disease: According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, more women than men die each year of cardiovascular disease. Only one-third of clinical trial subjects in cardiovascular research are women and fewer than 12% of all the trials report by sex.
In fact, it wasn’t until 1993 that the federal government allowed women of childbearing years to be included in such research. Since then, strides have been made, but it is not enough. If the medical community could conduct research into biological identifiers exclusive to women, we could begin addressing this research gap quickly and efficiently.
LifeStory Health is working to close this gap through our discovery of a novel biological mechanism, based on modified proteins found in menstrual blood.
This mechanism not only demonstrates how women are different from men but also how women are different from other women.
This offers a unique and first-ever view into patient stratification in a pre-disease state.
LSH’s platform technology separates females from males, as well as females from other females. Some females have proteins that are modified more than others, which interferes with the body’s natural ability to appropriately degrade and eliminate and “recycle” protein waste. This creates a potentially harmful “protein aggregation.”
There is a phrase people use that “women are not small men” and I find it entirely appropriate. As a society, we first must better understand female biology and the interaction it has with disease and subsequent treatment methods.
LifeStory Health is on track to use and monitor protein biomarkers in the diagnostics of menstrual blood, which in the past was considered medical waste. This is an incredibly exciting prospect, especially since menstrual blood is easy to collect and this unique sample type has traditionally been unexplored as a diagnostic by modern Western medicine.