She is a doctor in reproductive immunology and an independent researcher at Conicet, and the only Argentine woman who has been able to create two biotechs in the fertility area: Immunogenesis and Microgenesis.
Scientist Gabriela Gutiérrez has been researching for more than 20 years on recurrent pregnancy loss and unexplained infertility, that is, those conventional assisted fertility treatments that do not succeed.
For this reason, together with María Agustina Azpiroz, doctor in Medical Sciences and specialist in Reproductive Immunology, they decided to focus on understanding what were the underlying problems that do not allow a successful pregnancy, and instead of asking themselves how to achieve a successful pregnancy, they decided to start with another question: Why don’t women get pregnant?
“If we understand the cause, everything changes. Of course there is no single cause, but everything we had developed in immunology with the TiME (Test immunológico del endometrio) developed to measure endometrial status that we created in the first startup Inmunogenesis, helped us understand how we could get ahead. And so we came to the study of the microbiota. It turns out that there are far more viruses, bacteria and fungi in the body than cells. These populations live in different biomes such as the gut, skin and vagina. Our food is processed by these bacteria and a central focus of current scientific research is trying to understand which populations are beneficial and how they must be balanced, otherwise what is called dysbiosis occurs. We study how these dysbiosis alter fertility if we also add immunological markers and other systemic markers that can be found with blood tests,” explains Gabriela with such simplicity that makes it seem simple.
“In this way we manage to package all this in a test that can be done at home and, based on the results, provide a personalized treatment to balance and improve the woman’s state of health“, adds the specialist, while stressing that her hypothesis is based on the fact that fertility problems are the first symptom of a subclinical disease: “When we understood this, we changed everything, we focused completely on the woman. Her health is what comes first, and I think we see it that way because we are women, that made us change the way we see it and, therefore, how we investigate it.”
“There is an understanding that women’s health becomes a central role.”
Microgenesis for the world
This Argentine technology-based company emerged thanks to an Empretecno (subsidy granted by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation) which soon caught the attention of GRIDx, a local incubator of biotechnology companies, who helped them land in Spain and the U.S. through IndieBio, based in San Francisco.
“Today it is no longer just an idea, we have achieved 12 pregnancies and the first baby has already been born in the U.S. A fertility technology developed in Argentina has already achieved concrete results abroad”, highlights Gabriela.
Currently, Microgenesis’ project is to develop the company commercially in North America: “We have already managed to demonstrate that it is useful, but another stage is for women to understand the point of our solution and why it benefits them. We are at a stage that has more to do with marketing and business than with science.
Inmunogenesis (2015) was the first biotech founded by Gabriela Gutiérrez with the aim of studying the endometrium, its condition and possible pathologies that affect the possibility and viability of a successful pregnancy. This is how she created TiME, a study useful in fertility, but oriented towards prevention through a diagnostic and treatment algorithm based on personalized medicine.
For Gabriela, science is born of curiosity and curiosity makes us ask ourselves questions: “I think that as women our questions have another look and that allows us to do new science”. However, she is emphatic in affirming that it was not easy to get to this place: “The doors to leadership positions never open easily and if you are a woman, it is even more difficult. If you look at who dominates publications and fertility clinics, you are far from gender equality. In my case, I did not have a female role model to imitate. That scientist who grows beyond her laboratory, who forms her company and does it together with other women did not yet exist. On the contrary, the system (beyond gender) was against a scientist creating a company. The road was hard, but the inspiration always came from the patients, from trying to understand them to give them a new opportunity”.
Gabriela Gutiérrez | Founder of Microgénesis