Earlier this year, the medtech start-up Cirqle Biomedical was accepted into the Creation House program after having been through the BII Business Acceleration Academy during autumn 2018.
Cirqle Biomedical is developing the first easy to use, on-demand contraceptive without hormones for women, and the company is founded by CEO Frederik Petursson Madsen and CSO Thomas Crouzier. For the past two years, they have been working on transforming their scientific discovery into a fundable company while Frederik Petursson Madsen has worked as an Innovation Consultant at Medicoindustrien and Thomas Crouzier has led a group at Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (KTH).
It all began in 2015 when Frederik Petursson Madsen asked himself what the ideal contraceptive would look like from a user’s point of view and then started searching for a technology to solve the problem. He traveled to KTH to look for ways to create a more effective diaphragm and this is where he met Thomas Crouzier who had worked on mucus related technology since his postdoc at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“When Thomas started presenting his research on mucus engineering it became clear that we had a potential breakthrough. Instead of a traditional diaphragm, we could potentially reinforce nature’s own barrier – cervical mucus.”, says Frederik Petursson Madsen.
After having done preliminary research on the concept, Cirqle Biomedical set up a collaboration with Karolinska University Hospital to collect ovulatory cervical mucus and sperm. Using the donated materials, they tested the approach in an artificial cervical canal developed in their lab and achieved the vital proof of concept.
We asked Frederik Petursson Madsen some questions about Circle Biomedical.
Why is your product unique?
Our goal is to launch the first easy to use, on-demand contraceptive without hormones for women because female consumers have become increasingly more aware of the side-effects of hormonal contraception. Our technology prevents sperm cells from entering the cervix by reinforcing the cervical mucus barrier. The cervical mucus is a gel that is naturally present in the cervix, a canal bridging the vagina and the uterus. Our technology interacts with the mucin proteins of the mucus gel to create a tighter mesh that blocks sperm cells. This enables a product that provides protection after only a few minutes and potentially for up to 24 hours.
What attracted you to the Creation House program?
We were attracted by BII’s vision to create the most successful life science incubator in Europe, and our participation in the Business Acceleration Academy program made it easier to understand how to position our company as a good match for Creation House. It is valuable to have financing on founder-friendly terms and access to state-of-the-art lab space, but being part of BII also means becoming part of a network of entrepreneurs that are all on the same journey, which we believe to be incredibly important.
Where do you expect to be with the company after 18 months at BII?
In the near future, we expect to advance our research into animal models and validate the properties of our target polymer. Within the 18 months at BII, our goal is to be ready for the first in-human study.