Menopause control. That’s what Piraye Beim is going for, and when you think about it, that’s what all of us are going for, right? Even if it’s just in some small way.
But Beim, founder and CEO of biotech startup Celmatix, is not thinking small. She’s thinking very, very big. To her, controlling menopause means delaying it, not just for fertility issues, but also to put off other health factors associated with menopause, such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
“If we could buy women an extra 10 to 15 years of natural endocrine function, we’re talking about a huge boost in their vitality and their wellness at a critical stage in their life,” Beim told Fortune magazine. “It will align us more with men, basically.”
How to Delay Menopause
We think we can shift the actual age of menopause from 50 out to 60 or 70.
As we know, every woman is born with a different number of eggs and each of us runs through that store at a different rate. How quickly or slowly we use up the eggs is based on genetics and environmental factors such as smoking (which speeds up the depletion).
Beim compares egg storage to having money in the bank. “You can actually put the brakes on that and create a more efficient process where if you use fewer per month, then your bank account lasts for longer,” she told Fortune. “We think we can shift the actual age of menopause from 50 out to 60 or 70.”
The drug that Celmatix is developing works by mimicking anti-Mullerian hormone, which is key in regulating the ovary and egg stores. The company plans to be in clinical trials in 2023, testing its drug on women who are undergoing chemotherapy—one of the most common causes of premature menopause.
The Command Center
The ovary is essential the command center of a woman’s body, Beim believes, impacting everything from immune function to metabolism to heart health. But unfortunately ovaries don’t get much love in the medical world, beyond their reproduction functions.
Beim points out that even with all the innovations made in medical therapies, very few have focused on women’s health. The treatments used today are mostly based on an understanding of biology that goes back 100 years, she says, and there have essentially been no new drugs in years.
This passive neglect is changing, she believes. “The broader cultural focus and shift in female empowerment is becoming loud and clear to pharma,” she says, and, using a Silicon Valley term for an audacious long-term goal, she adds, “the real moonshot is menopause control.”