“We were given a gift to be able to solve a big problem, and though the road to getting a device to market is often a bumpy one, we have never lost our resolve to keep moving forward.”
That focus from Madorra, a Fogarty Institute graduate aiming to improve the quality of life for breast cancer survivors and post-menopausal women, is welcome news to the very women they pledge to help.
Interest is high: Early on when Madorra only had a very early-stage prototype device, women were lining up outside the door to participate in its first study, even thought it was designed solely to collect data, rather than offer a direct benefit to the patient.
The trend hasn’t stopped. In fact, Madorra is currently doing a pilot study in Australia, and women are once again lining up at the door. The startup used Facebook ads to initially target women to participate in the study, but had to quickly turn them off due to the overwhelming response.
“Often, enrolling patients for trials is one of the most challenging parts of the process, but we have been very fortunate in receiving a lot of interest in what we are doing, which really underscores the need for our device,” says Holly Rockweiler, co-founder and CEO of Madorra.
What is drawing the significant interest? Madorra is developing the first non-hormonal medical device treatment for feminine dryness, which will improve the quality of life for post-menopausal women and the 1.4 million breast cancer survivors in the United States who suffer from the condition.
“We have consistently had a waiting list for our studies, indicating that women who suffer from vaginal dryness are highly motivated to do something about it, which emboldens us to keep moving forward at a rapid pace,” Holly said.
Following its Series A funding round, led by Australia-based venture capital firm OneVentures, Madorra has refined its medical device, and has received a series of grants from both the NIH and NSF in the U.S. In addition, it has expanded its base beyond Portland, Oregon, with an office in San Mateo, California, and a presence in Australia and subsequently grown its team to nine employees.
“It’s been a very exciting time at the company as we have grown from idea to proof of concept, to optimizing the design and developing a sleek device that is now being tested to prove its efficacy,” said Holly. “We have a strong core of women who have been very keen in following and supporting our startup. That has been incredibly helpful for receiving feedback, in addition to the very positive response we’ve received from the physicians, who quickly understand what we are doing and are eager to get involved.”
The company recently pitched at the Avestria’s Women and Health breakfast, at J.P. Morgan, alongside several Fogarty Institute companies and alumni focused on women’s healthcare or led by women, including Palmm, Materna, Raydiant Oximetry and Alydia Health. Next up will be a larger clinical trial in the U.S.
“Since we launched Madorra out of the Stanford Biodesign program, we have seen a lot more interest in women’s healthcare, with more investors dedicated towards this space, such as Avestria, Astarte and Portfolia, with whom we were fortunate to partner,” said Holly. “There’s a vastly different view of pre- and post-menopausal women today than even just a few years ago. J. Lo’s performance at the Super Bowl says it all.”