THE IGANTIA STORY
"To understand how women age...to ensure that women have options and personalized treatments that cater to their menopause experience and...that no woman have to succumb to the stigma of menopause and endure this life changing event alone...this is why I created Igantia"
- Dr. Sohila Zadran
Women can spend up to a third of their lifetime in menopause and although researchers and studies have implicated a decline in hormone levels to the onset of menopause, what triggers the onset of menopause in women and why there is such a heterogeneity of symptoms remains unknown.
Igantia is a genomics and computation driven company creating the largest and most comprehensive menopause dataset that includes genomics, metabolomics, clinical biometric data, genealogy and digital real time health data. Igantia is developing and applying large scale computing and deep learning to revolutionize women's health and develop novel healthcare solutions.
What is menopause?
Menopause is defined as the cessation of menses for at least 12 months and where blood levels of follicle stimulating hormone ranges within 35-50. Menopause symptoms include but are not limited to hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, depression, cognitive decline, memory loss, vaginal atrophy and dryness, difficulty sleeping, decreased libido and urinary incontinence.
Menopause also has a direct link to several age associated disorders including osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and disorders of the central nervous system.
OSTEOPOROSIS: Studies have linked the depleting estrogen levels after menopause and the development of osteoporosis. After menopause, bone resorption (breakdown) overtakes the the building of new bone. Bone loss is even observed in women in early menopause and women with infrequent menstrual cycles.
CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: A decline in hormones has been linked to the increased risk of heart disease in post-menopausal women. Hormones, such as estrogen, is believed to have a positive effect on the inner layer of the artery wall, keeping blood vessels healthy and flexible.
CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDERS: Several studies have revealed that hormone replacement early in the onset of menopause can not only improve cognition but also delay Alzheimer's Disease onset by almost 30%. The Women's Health Initiative Memory Study also demonstrated an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease in women who took hormone therapy if they started too late following menopause onset.
GENETIC FACTORS: Fragile X-associated primary ovarian insufficiency (FXPOI) is one of three known Fragile X-associated disorders due to abnormalities in the FMR1 gene. FXPOI is characterized by non-functional or partially functional ovaries resulting in absent or irregular menses, symptoms of menopause including hot flashes, early menopause and infertility. The average age of menopause in women ranges between 48 to 55 years old, women with FXPOI exhibit early menopause, some as early as 35 to 40 years old.
CHEMOTHERAPY: During chemotherapy, many women may experience "medical menopause" or amenorrhea, the disappearance of menses. Medical menopause may be temporary in some women depending on the chemotherapies used. Some chemotherapies that target and destroy fast dividing cells such as cancer cells can also destroy ovarian cells, which are also fast dividing cells, resulting in a permanent menopause. Cancer treatments that require removal of the ovaries also pushes women into a permanent menopause.
By 2020, the number of women in the United States older than the age of 51 will reach more than 50 million. Igantia is creating the first comprehensive dataset specifically focused on menopause. Igantia will lead an extensive sequencing, proteomic and metabolomic characterization effort to identify much needed novel biological targets that treat symptoms of menopause or delay menopause entirely.