Celmatix, a US-based startup, are beginning clinical trials for their Big Data technology in the field of fertility treatment. Their technology Polaris, so-named for the guiding star in astronomy, computes massive amounts of data to better predict which fertility treatments a particular patient will respond to best. Polaris will initially be piloted in five clinics across the US, and eventually be rolled out in ten.
So what model are Celmatix using to predict their patients’ response to treatments? The answer may surprise you. “We took over large sets of electronic medical records from our different research partner clinics and we started to use the same kind of analytics that Google uses for what shoe you want to buy to determine why someone is responding to treatments when someone else was not,” Dr. Piraye Yurttas Beim, Celmatix’s founder explains. In other words, in a similar fashion to the way Google harnesses data to make personalised shopping recommendations, Polaris uses personal biological metrics to tailor fertility treatment recommendations.
Another advantage of Polaris’ big-data approach is greater knowledge for the patients. The more time someone stays on a particular course of fertility treatment, the more likely they are to conceive. But women and couples are often disenchanted by the lack of information or measurable results, and stop a course of treatment, assuming it was ‘unsuccessful’. “Emotional stress and lack of clarity are big drivers of discontinuation of therapy,” says Beim. “Most of us in a certain age group experience this.” Polaris offers patients greater clarity of knowledge, decreasing the chance of discontinuation and increasing the likelihood of a positive result.
Looking forward, Celmatix are also excited by the prospect of using the information available to help women begin planning their pregnancies. For now though, they are primarily focused on women and couples who have experienced trouble conceiving, a broad and pressing issue in the US. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 6.7 million women in the US have impaired ability to conceive. Technologies such as Polaris have the ability to change millions of lives, and start millions of families.