Lee Equity Partners, serial entrepreneur Martín Varsavsky, Reproductive Biology Associates and My Egg Bank North America have formed Prelude, a new fertility company that helps people better control their biological clocks. According to a statement about the launch, Lee Equity Partners and Varsavsky have committed up to $200 million in equity funding for the fertility sector, a portion of which financed the launch and partnership with RBA and MEB.
NEW YORK (October 17, 2016)—Today, Lee Equity Partners, serial entrepreneur Martín Varsavsky, Reproductive Biology Associates (RBA), and My Egg Bank North America (MEB) launched Prelude, a comprehensive fertility company focused on providing proactive fertility care to improve people’s chances of having healthy babies when they’re ready. With more people delaying childbirth until their 30s and 40s to complete their education, pursue careers or find the right partner, Prelude aims to give people more reproductive choices and control over their biological clocks using The Prelude Method. The Prelude Method is a four-step process that includes egg and sperm freezing, genetic testing, embryo creation and single-embryo transfer. Currently, around 18% of women never get to have a baby, and another 20% have just one baby when they wanted more. By coupling earlier decision making with the latest reproductive science and technology, The Prelude Method can dramatically increase the probability of having a healthy baby and decrease the chances of requiring infertility therapy later in life.
Prelude has teamed with fertility industry leaders and clinical experts Reproductive Biology Associates (RBA) in Atlanta, and My Egg Bank North America. RBA is led by reproductive endocrinologists Andrew A. Toledo, M.D., Daniel B. Shapiro, M.D., and Zsolt Peter Nagy, PhD (embryology). Dr. Nagy and his team most recently contributed to significant improvements in oocyte cryopreservation using vitrification technology, which led to the establishment of the first highly efficient donor egg cryobank in the United States, My Egg Bank North America. Dr. Nagy was also employed as a medical scientist on the team that first developed intracytoplasmic sperm injection, a novel insemination method now utilized worldwide.
“Prelude is using vitrification and genetic testing of embryos to dramatically improve pregnancy outcomes,” said Nagy. “The Prelude Method helps us advance My Egg Bank’s mission to ensure people achieve their parenting dreams by literally freezing their fertility at its prime, instead of having to solve the issue of infertility later in life.”
The Prelude Method, Explained
The Prelude Method is a four-step process:
1. Fertility Preservation
Women’s eggs and men’s sperm are frozen during their peak fertility years—their 20s and early 30s. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just women’s eggs that carry risks associated with declining fertility. Advancing paternal age also has been associated with higher incidence of illnesses in offspring such as autism and bipolar disorder.
2. Embryo Creation
When clients are ready to start a family, eggs and sperm are unfrozen and combined to create embryos.
3. Genetic Screening
Before the embryo is implanted, parents are screened for common inherited diseases. If the results of this testing indicate increased risk to their offspring, the embryos are tested for the specific disease(s). Embryos are also tested for chromosomal abnormalities. As genetic screening improves, the number of illnesses that can be detected will rise over time, and so will the chances of having a healthy baby.
4. Single Embryo Transfer
An embryo is selected that will maximize the likelihood for a healthy birth.
“When my wife Nina was only 31, her AMH level was prematurely low and her cycles were irregular,” said Varsavsky. “Being a tech entrepreneur, I started researching her condition, and we decided to go straight for IVF as well as freeze sperm and eggs. We also added the most advanced genetic testing to the mix. The result was phenomenal, we now have two wonderful kids, Mia, 5, and David, 3, and a third one on the way. A fourth baby was born out of our own difficulties—Prelude!”
The WHO Ranks Infertility the Third Most Serious Disease Worldwide
Today, as many as one-third of couples fail trying to conceive through sex, and according to the March of Dimes, as many as 15% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, with the rate increasing as a woman ages. The World Health Organization ranks infertility as the third most serious disease worldwide, after cancer and cardiovascular disease. Inside of this crisis, infertility is estimated to be more than a $2 billion industry, growing more than 4% annually. This trend is dominated by people over the age of 35, who—due to career, financial pressures, not finding the right partner or other factors—are now struggling to conceive. Those who do conceive at a later age have offspring that face significant health risks: 80% of embryos from women over 40 years old carry chromosomal abnormalities, and 5% of newborns are affected by genetic conditions. By providing men and women with more information and choices for managing their fertility earlier in their reproductive years, Prelude intends to significantly reduce the emotional stress and high cost associated with dealing with infertility later in life.
As Prelude’s CEO and founder, Varsavsky will oversee efforts to expand the company’s clinical reach. Geoff Crouse, a senior executive with extensive experience building successful companies in both life sciences and consumer healthcare, will serve as a board member and will support launching Prelude as the interim president. Crouse most recently was the CEO of Cord Blood Registry, the world’s largest private cord blood and tissue bank. Varsavsky and Crouse will be joined on the Prelude board of directors by Dr. Mehmet Oz, who reaches millions through his internationally syndicated media platforms, including the eight-time Daytime Emmy Award–winning TV program The Dr. Oz Show. Dr. Oz has authored more than 400 publications, book chapters and medical books, and has received numerous patents. He participates in 50 heart surgeries per year and is a professor of surgery at Columbia University.
With investments in leading health businesses, including Eating Recovery Center—the nation’s largest network of eating disorder clinics—Lee Equity Partners joined forces with Varsavsky, committing up to $200 million in equity to support the fertility industry and positively impact the lives of many future parents. A portion has funded the acquisition and partnership with RBA and My Egg Bank.
Barry Baker, a senior advisor to Lee Equity, said, “Martín, Geoff and Dr. Oz, and the outstanding physicians at MEB and RBA, create a dream team to transform the fertility industry through premier medicine and broader adoption of vitrification services.”
Collins Ward, a principal at Lee Equity, added, “The combined resources and leadership at Prelude provide a powerful mix of medical innovation and marketing expertise that will drive consumer education and enable millions of people to plan and grow their families.”
For more information about Prelude, visit www.preludefertility.com.http://www.preludefertility.com
Prelude is a comprehensive fertility company focused on providing proactive fertility care to improve people’s chances of having healthy babies when they’re ready. Founded in 2016 by serial entrepreneur Martín Varsavsky, Lee Equity Partners, Reproductive Biology Associates and My Egg Bank North America, the company was established to give men and women more reproductive choices and control over their biological clocks using The Prelude Method. The Prelude Method is a four-step process that includes egg and sperm freezing, genetic testing, embryo creation, and single embryo transfer. By coupling earlier decision making with the latest reproductive science and technology, The Prelude Method can dramatically increase the probability of having a healthy baby and decrease the chances of requiring infertility therapy later in life.
About Reproductive Biology Associates (RBA)
Reproductive Biology Associates, based in Atlanta and founded in 1983, is the oldest continuously operating full-service private fertility treatment center in the United States. RBA’s mission, from its founding, has been the development, improvement and application of clinical and applied sciences to improve fertility care. It is responsible for several notable “firsts” in reproductive medicine. www.rbaivf.com
About My Egg Bank North America
My Egg Bank North America is the first multicenter network of fertility centers offering the proprietary cryogenic egg vitrification process originally developed by Reproductive Biology Associates, in Atlanta, in 2010.
My Egg Bank North America is a network of five nationally recognized egg production centers providing frozen donor eggs to over 100 affiliated IVF centers throughout the United States and Canada. Recipients who seek care at My Egg Bank affiliate centers are treated by fertility specialists who are highly qualified and trained to use My Egg Bank’s technology and vitrified donor eggs in their practice. The production centers are Reproductive Biology Associates, in Atlanta; IVF New England, in Boston; The Center for Reproductive Medicine, in Orlando, Florida; Seattle Reproductive Medicine; and Reproductive Associates of Delaware. www.myeggbank.com
About Lee Equity Partners, LLC
Lee Equity Partners is a New York–based private equity firm that partners with strong management teams to build companies with high growth potential. Lee Equity targets equity investments of $50 to $150 million in middle market control buyouts and growth capital financings in companies with enterprise values of $100 million to $500 million that are located primarily in the United States. The firm invests in a range of industries where the team has deep relationships developed over decades, including financial, healthcare and business services, retail and consumer products, media, and specialty industrial/specialty distribution. www.LeeEquity.com