Making It Work: AVeta wins €2.5m funding for revolutionary treatment
Paula Newell’s Galway-based medtech is targeting another €4m investment to help pioneer a regenerative treatment for vaginal atrophy
When Paula Newell founded AVeta Medical, the Galway-based company that aims to revolutionise the treatment of vaginal atrophy, she knew she wanted to flip the narrative surrounding women’s health. She even built the name of the business around the idea.
“There’s a reason why the ‘A’ and ‘V’ in our title are capitalised,” Newell, who founded the medical firm in 2019, said of AVeta’s title. “If you think about it, with ‘AV’, we’ve got two letters that reverse vaginal atrophy. And that’s what we want to do.”
Over the last two years, AVeta has been steadily building public awareness about vaginal atrophy, a debilitating condition that involves thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls that can occur due to a body having less estrogen.
The Enterprise Ireland-backed company, which last week won €2.5 million in funding from the European Commission, hopes to pioneer a new form of treatment which regenerates vaginal tissue and generates moisture in the process, addressing the pain that the condition can cause.
While it primarily affects women going through menopause, the condition can also be a side-effect of breast cancer treatment, and can be extremely painful.
“When you walk, it feels like sandpaper. It can affect you going to the toilet, disrupt your work and have an impact on your sex life,” Newell, a Galway native, said.
A paediatric occupational therapist by training, she started focusing on the condition in 2016, after enrolling in the BioInnovate medical device training course in NUI Galway.
While on the programme, which aims to find solutions to under-served health conditions, she realised there was a need for a new type of treatment for vaginal dryness – one that was safe, affordable and free from hormones.
“All that was out there were over the counter products, hormonal therapy and also laser therapy, which often isn’t clinically validated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the US,” Newell said. “And many of them were dangerous, unaffordable or could cause issues with fertility.”
When she began to research a new device for treating vaginal atrophy, Newell quickly realised that what women wanted was a “better, more safe, hormone-free way to treat this condition”.
AVeta has now completed pre-clinical animal trials, which have validated the functionality of the moisture-inducing device. It aims to achieve authorisation from the Food and Drug Administration by 2024, and roll out the products in Ireland and Europe the following year.
To fund its growth, AVeta is targeting €2 million in additional private funding by 2022, and a further €2 million by 2024, in two funding rounds that would bring its total investment to €6.5 million.
“That’s what we need to get this product to market in the US and in Europe,” Newell said.
“It’s really when you talk to the women, and the breast cancer survivors, that you realise how badly this product is needed. Women deserve, want and need a better solution to vaginal atrophy, and I strongly believe that AVeta is that solution.”