Cécile Real is the president and founder of Endodiag, a company she set up in 2011 to develop new diagnostic tools for endometriosis, a disease that affects approximately 10% of all women of childbearing age. In her first post on the Promoting Enterprise blog, she told us about her experience in setting up her business. In this post, she tells us more about what her company does and what are the keys to its success.
At Endodiag, we are working on endometriosis, a major health issue that is not yet well known among the general population. Our objective is to change the paradigm of this disease and bring new solutions for patients. We are working with different groups of partners to build awareness about the disease, and change the lives of 180 million women who suffer a lot and who are generally overlooked.
What do we do?
Since we started the company in 2011, we have been developing a diagnostic test, EndoDtect®, to detect the disease from a simple blood sample. This does away with the need for surgery, which costs EUR 10,000 on average and can, like any other type of surgery, be dangerous. Moreover, this will prevent the progression of the disease as well as potentially safeguard the fertility of patients.
To develop this test, we need to collaborate with different kinds of partners and we have tried to involve them as early as possible in our project.
Our employees and co-founders:
Something essential for our company to be successful is team work. We need talented people to find cures for this tricky disease but, even more important than their talent, we need to mix people with different mind-sets and backgrounds and make sure that we all work well together. This is probably how the most creative ideas and solutions have been achieved in our project.
Like a recipe, each member of the team contributes his/her ideas, know-how and energy
- The surgeons, gynecologists and scientists:
We work hand by hand with surgeons and scientists to understand the disease mechanism and the needs of healthcare professionals for their patients. Our job could be defined as acting as a translator between science, medicine and engineering to transform ideas into products.
- The patients:
The patients are at the heart of our work, but it is not common in our industry to work with them during early stage development of new ideas, new solutions or new products. We have been lucky to meet many of them just after starting the company and this has been both very helpful and very inspiring. Very helpful because, by discussing with them we understood more rapidly certain symptoms/reactions and could correlate them with some of our research findings. This has helped speed up our R&D. And very inspiring, because listening to their suffering and struggles really makes you very motivated to solve the problem.
Despite these collaborations, we rapidly understood that developing technological solutions was necessary to change the paradigm of this disease, but that if we did not also raise awareness about endometriosis, we would only be solving half of the problem. If the population, the doctors and public institutions are not aware of endometriosis, its symptoms and consequences, it will be very difficult to detect the disease early and manage the patients well.
In order to raise awareness, in 2013 we launched OZ2020 in collaboration with patient associations, gynecologists, scientists and BePatient (a start-up specialised in the development of eHealth solutions). OZ2020 is a web community on endometriosis. The platform contributes to raising awareness but also provides patients with qualified and validated scientific and medical information on endometriosis and helps support endometriosis research projects.
We remain convinced that, thanks to all our common efforts with patient associations, industry, doctors and public authorities, the time to say “women don’t need to suffer anymore” will soon be here.