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Women’s Health Innovators: Oratel Diagnostics

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Worldwide, more than ten percent of women suffer from pelvic pain caused by endometriosis. This disorder, which occurs when endometrial tissues grows outside of the uterus, is currently diagnosed using an invasive surgical laparoscopy that many patients are unable to afford.

Currently, ten million patients enter the emergency room every year complaining of pelvic pain, but 65% leave without a diagnosis. Unlike the invasive and costly laparoscopy, Oratel Diagnostic’s alternative is quick, affordable, and easy to use, allowing more patients to understand their condition and be matched with an effective treatment.

Oratel Diagnostics aims to solve this diagnostic gap by creating a cost effective and non-invasive saliva-based test that can detect endometriosis. 

Founded in December of 2006 by Dorothee Goldman, Oratel Diagnostics is based in Hammondsport, New York and focuses on using plant pigments that are sensitive to estrogen changes to develop diagnostic tests for reproductive health issues in humans and animals. The company’s main two products are an endometriosis test (ENDO-TEK) and a COW assay that helps dairy farmers identify that pregnancy probability of cows. “What makes me passionate is that I discovered it [ENDO-TEK] by accident and I wanted to know why,” Goldman said. “It’s a very strong reaction and I am just absolutely curious of understanding the science behind it. I just have to know.”Oratel Diagnostic’s ENDO-TEK test consists of a small strip of paper treated with two different pigments which respond to factors that are different between women with and without endometriosis. Once a patient tests their saliva on the assay, the color response can be digitally photographed and sent to be analyzed. Using a secure server, the company can provide a “yes” or “no” answer as to whether endometriosis is present within 20 minutes. 
 

Although there are a few competitors in this field, Oratel Diagnostics differentiates themselves from the other diagnostic tools. Oratel Diagnostics currently holds three patents for their technology, and while other tests may take days to produce results, the ENDO-TEK test can be completed in minutes.

Despite the 174 million women who suffer from endometriosis every day, this disorder lacks awareness and focused testing. Many women are unaware that this condition exists, and doctors do not have the proper tools or knowledge to diagnose it. In the past 30 years, there have been no alternative diagnostic tests created, which is why Oratel Diagnostics is stepping up to make a difference. 

"The world has been waiting almost 50 years for a diagnostic for endometriosis that's not a laparoscopy, and why is that?” ... “If it were men having that, it might be a different story. That says a lot about where we are right now in terms of the way we deal with health issues that are affecting over ten percent of the population and not getting attention, just being side-lined.”

Dorothee Goldman,

Last year, Oratel Diagnostics was a finalist in HITLAB’s 2019 Women’s Health Tech Initiative where they received the third-place prize as well as the Health Innovation Alliance’s Women’s Health Tech Innovator Award. Oratel received an Alliance membership and strategic counsel from award sponsors Horizon Government Affairs. Goldman noted how much she enjoyed her participation in the event, as it provided her with incredible networking opportunities and connected her with other groups that have helped advance her business. 

Oratel Diagnostics will also be working with HITLAB in the future to explore doctor and stakeholder interest and awareness of the company’s product. According to Goldman, this partnership was the most influential outcome of her participation the Women’s Health Tech Initivative.

“Making connections with HITLAB has been a big boom,” Goldman said. “I’ve been with other accelerators…but they didn’t have the same depth or same earnestness in really moving something forward, in really following up. 

Currently, Oratel Diagnostics is working with a manufacturer to develop and commercialize their technology and specify their protocol. The company is also creating a publication of their current work to help build their audience, enter the market, and receive feedback from other experts in the field.

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On the research side, Oratel Diagnostics is in the process of conducting a 200-person study at Brigham -Women’s Hospital sponsored by CTIP Los Angeles to discover when their saliva-based diagnostic tool is most effective. They are comparing frozen and fresh saliva samples as well as testing the impact of other variants such as whether the patients take medication and the patient’s’ menstrual cycle phases. Although this study has been paused due to COVID-19, Goldman plans to continue this research as soon as it is safe to do so. 

Oratel Diagnostics currently has one iteration of a digital device for endometriosis that can reach end users. In the future, they plan to build on that experience to use the technology from their dairy industry products with humans. 

Looking back on her experiences creating her FemTech business, Goldman shares with other innovators in the field and young women aspiring to make a difference how she overcame her struggles. 

“I would say if you’re passionate about it don’t give up, you are going to meet a tremendous number of roadblocks, and I’ve really gotten used to that, and actually it gives you energy,” Goldman said. “I would say be patient, be persistent, and always look out for the best connections that will help you more forward because it is not going to be something you can do alone.”

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