Incontinence is an extremely annoying condition for which current treatment, in the form of pills, has many side effects. LiGalli has developed a unique vaginal ring that delivers controlled incontinence medicine in a liquid form, as a result, the woman experiences fewer side effects. LiGalli’s MedRing enables more effective drug delivery and better diagnostics, and is controlled via a smartphone app. In this way, incontinence can be treated in a targeted manner, so that women can go through their day with more control. Recently, technology developer and producer Demcon completed the development and first production of the MedRing on behalf of LiGalli. The partners are now working together on new versions of the MedRing, for the delivery of other medicines, and also for diagnostics. This week, LiGalli closed an investment round to finance the market launch of the first MedRing and the development of subsequent versions. In addition, LiGalli and Demcon have intensified their cooperation, as Demcon has also come on board as a new shareholder. “We want to build a Dutch company together”, says LiGalli CEO Willem de Laat, “and ensure that the benefits of our ring become available to as many women as possible.”
As many as one in six women suffer from an overactive bladder. There are medicines available in the form of pills, but these have many side effects. As a result, incontinence continues to be an extremely unpleasant condition for many women, hindering them in their daily lives and social activities. A ring that releases the drug oxybutynin in the vagina in liquid form offers a solution. This drug is expected to give a much better result, with fewer side effects. Due to its excellent perfusion, the vaginal wall is the ideal location for the effective uptake of medicines. There are already many types of vaginal rings, but they only provide the continuous delivery of a fixed dose of medicine. LiGalli has now developed a unique vaginal ring for controlled delivery, diagnostics, and communication. The patient is able to insert and remove the ring herself, and operate it with a smartphone app.
Second-generation vaginal ring
LiGalli was founded by Willem de Laat, who trained as a gynecologist and is the former chief medical officer of Organon. At Organon, he was responsible for introducing the first vaginal ring, the NuvaRing, for the delivery of contraceptives. Now he is the inventor of the second-generation vaginal ring. “As far as we can tell, our MedRing is the first and only one that is controlled from an app and can collect data for diagnostics. We have obtained a patent for this. The human body is not only able to absorb medicines, it also continuously sends out a lot of data about its own condition. Our ring is equipped with a temperature sensor that can measure whether the medicine has actually been delivered. Doctors have a lot of interest in this objective information, because until now they had to rely on patient confirmation. In the future, we will use specific sensors to also measure, for example, glucose or hormone levels. In addition to physiological data, we can collect therapeutic data so that drug delivery can be adapted to the measured values. In this way, with the help of the app, the doctor can tailor the treatment to the individual patient.”
Development partner and investor
LiGalli was looking for a partner to help develop the MedRing into a medical product. “We have searched all over the world for an engineering firm that is good at two things: medical product development and miniaturization. That’s how we ended up at Demcon. It was a very challenging job for them to build this ring with the right layout, the right materials, the correct functioning, and all of this in miniaturized form. They have succeeded in turning the ring into a beautiful product in which a small pump, a miniature medicine reservoir, electronics, an antenna, and a small battery have been correctly integrated. Their people are incredibly motivated to make the ring a success. In our meetings we sit around the table with an extraordinary group of people, featuring engineers and pharmacists, as well as a gynecologist, a biochemist, a patent expert, and more. Demcon CEO Dennis Schipper is a true entrepreneur and visionary. He shares his thoughts about the future of the company and the ring. There is a match between us, because neither of us wish to go for the quick buck – we want to build a Dutch company. The great thing is that Demcon is now also participating in our new investment round. That says something about their confidence.”
This week, LiGalli raised six million euros in new investments from existing and new shareholders, including Demcon as mentioned above. With this capital injection, LiGalli will finance the market introduction of the MedRing for incontinence medication, and the development of new MedRing applications, where Demcon will take care of both the hardware and the software. The operation of the ring has now been demonstrated, and Demcon has almost completed the assembly of the first rings. The first tests with the administration of oxybutynin in patients will follow in a few months.
Solution to a social problem
Demcon develops technological solutions to social problems, explains Jemy Pauwels, director investment at Demcon. “An overactive bladder affects more than 600 million people worldwide, most of them women, of whom about 100 million require treatment. In severe forms it can even lead to depression. The major advantages of LiGalli’s MedRing over alternatives are the reduced side effects and greater social acceptance. A further plus is the possibilities for monitoring the patient, also in the future for other conditions. Together with LiGalli we are looking for the ‘holy grail’: controlled drug delivery based on diagnostic measurements. As Demcon, we are happy to contribute to these new treatment options for women with engineering, production, and investment. We do this with confidence, because the current management has earned its spurs, and is supported by a wide range of skilled advisers and an expert supervisory board.”
Demcon (750 employees) develops, produces, and supplies technology and innovative products. The Demcon group has locations in Best, Enschede, Delft, Groningen (the Netherlands), Münster (Germany), and Singapore. The company was born out of the founders’ passion for combining creativity and technical skills aimed at solving complex issues. These issues are of a technological and social nature, and often have a direct or indirect impact on people and their living environment. Whether medical solutions, sustainable innovations for themes such as water and energy, or systems that guard our safety, Demcon contributes – for current and future generations. In addition to developing technical solutions, Demcon is committed to stimulating entrepreneurship, and investing in talent and education.
For more information, please contact Renée Koekkoek op Munsterhuis, public relations & press officer at Demcon, tel. +31 88 11 52 000. See also www.ligalli.nl.