SAN FRANCISCO, April 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Orchid, the first preconception system to quantify how a couple's genetics impacts their future child's health, today announced a $4.5M seed round with backing from top institutional VCs including Refactor Capital, Village Global, Day One Ventures, Olive Capital, and Boom Capital. The round also includes participation from proven operators including the founders of 23andMe, Counsyl, Clover Health, Coinbase, Eventbrite, Flatiron, Oscar Health Insurance, and Stellar.
Orchid detects if a couple's future child will be at elevated or normal genetic risk to top diseases. Couples can discover their future child's risk range through an at-home saliva test. If elevated risk is detected, couples have many options to protect their future child's health - monitor biomarkers, adapt diet, or elect for IVF. During IVF, embryos are created, and later this year, Orchid will offer an Embryo Report for couples interested in mitigating genetic risk to disease.
"Having children is the most consequential choice most of us make, yet parents go into pregnancy with zero visibility into how genetic risks could impact their future child," said Noor Siddiqui, Orchid Founder and CEO. "With Orchid's ultra high resolution reports, prospective parents can now conceive with confidence, prepared with information and guidance to give their children a better chance at a healthy life."
Orchid is now inviting couples to join the waitlist to get early access to Orchid's Couple Report.
Orchid's Couple Report is a physician-approved genetic test that couples can take at home by mailing in saliva samples. It reveals if the couple can pass on an elevated genetic risk to their future children for 10 top diseases: heart disease, stroke, atrial fibrillation, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's Disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease. The report analyzes 100% of both partners' genomes, and models the combinations of how both partner's DNA can combine in a future child.
"Wishing you'd known information that could have protected your child's health is a parent's worst fear and regret," said Dr. Ruben Alvero, a highly sought-after fertility physician, board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. "Orchid helps alert you at the earliest stages to genetic risks that can negatively impact your child's long-term health. Armed with this information, prospective parents can proactively manage their own health and make informed reproductive decisions. I am beyond excited to be able to soon offer my patients this preconception screening option."
Orchid's Couple Report also includes a report for each partner that detects individual risk for each disease. Overall three reports are provided - a couple report detailing risks for future children, a male partner report, and a female partner report. "As soon as I tried Orchid, I knew how valuable this was going to be to other couples. To have data on how our genetics will impact our child allows us to make better choices as parents. This is a company that is really going to change a lot of people's lives and quality of life for the better, and I'm really excited to be involved." added Noga Leviner, Orchid angel investor and CEO of Picnic Health.
Previously, preconception genetic screening analyzed only 2% of just one partner's genome and was only capable of detecting rare genetic disorders affecting approximately 1% of the population. By contrast, Orchid analyzes the entirety of both partner's genomes and assesses genetic predispositions to diseases that affect over 60% of the population.
"Up until now, parents could only genetically screen for the rare events with a 1 in 1,000 or even 1 in a million chance of happening. Yet there was no way for prospective parents to measure their future child's genetic predispositions to much more common chronic, debilitating diseases based on their combined genetics alone," said Director of ART Institute of Washington and Orchid advisor Jacques Cohen, Ph.D., "Orchid now makes this at-home test a reality."
Measuring genetic predisposition to top diseases wasn't possible until now because genetic datasets weren't large enough before to identify the millions of variants that collectively contribute to risk for major diseases. "Orchid is a breakthrough in preconception testing which allows parents to protect their children against many more types of inherited disease." said Balaji Srinivasan, co-founder of genetic testing company Counsyl and former General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, "it's a step up from traditional Mendelian genetic testing, as it tests for multifactorial conditions that impact the majority of the population."
Beyond being a category-defining conception technology, Orchid aims to address a larger challenge healthcare: the prevalence of chronic disease. More than 100 million Americans today are living with a chronic disease with limited treatment options. Orchid makes it possible to minimize the risk of developing disease by quantifying previously unknown genetic risks and personalized guidance around lifestyle changes. Later this year, Orchid will also offer follow-up embryo health reports, which will give parents the option to lower a future child's genetic risk by creating embryos through IVF and implanting embryos in the order that can reduce disease risk.
"Genetics impacts every person's health, yet most of us walk through life unaware of our unique genetic makeup including health risk. By harnessing population genetics, statistical modeling, reproductive technologies, and the latest advances in genomic science, Orchid will give many folks the chance to be parents and use science to help improve their families' genomic health," said Dr. Carlos D. Bustamante, the MacArthur award-winning Stanford population geneticist and vocal advocate for consumer choice in healthcare. "Having been an advisor, investor, and active participant in the genomics field for over twenty years, I recognize this as a landmark moment in reproductive rights for all, and I'm proud to be involved with Orchid's future as an early investor and advisor to the team."
"Often in healthcare, we are treating the symptoms instead of striking at the root," said Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase and angel investor. "Orchid is a categorical change. It's a step towards where we need to go in medicine—away from managing chronic disease, and towards anticipating and preventing it. With Orchid, parents can do that from birth which is an important step in the right direction."
Orchid is dedicated to accessibility to all that could benefit; applications for financial assistance are available here. Orchid is also building out resources for fertility and genetics education and a forum for broader conversation in the community. "We're in an age of seismic change in biotech - the ability to sequence genomes, the ability to edit genomes, and now the unprecedented ability to impact the health of a future child. Orchid is here to advocate for the most thoughtful, careful, and considered approach," said Siddiqui.
Orchid helps couples have healthy babies. Orchid makes it easy for couples to see how their genetics will impact their future child's health by quantifying genetic predisposition to top diseases. Orchid's Couple Report is an at-home saliva-based genetic test that identifies if a future child is at normal or elevated risk to diseases. Couples with elevated risk can elect to pursue IVF, and mitigate risk through follow-up embryo health reports. Later this year, Orchid's Embryo Report will enable couples pursuing IVF and their physicians to implant embryos in the order that mitigates disease risk.
Noor Siddiqui founded Orchid to reduce suffering and increase the chance that the next generation lives a life uninterrupted by disease. 45% of Americans struggle with incurable health issues, and couples worry about their children suffering from these same diseases. Orchid is addressing this massive issue by giving prospective parents the information they need to protect the health of their children.