Adelaide company, and Thebarton Technology Precinct Incubator tenant, RHS, is set to expand within the lucrative IVF market now that it has listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX:RHS).
Following a reverse merger with mining exploration company AO Energy, RHS listed on the ASX in April 2014 – the first Incubator tenant to do so.
With the backing of TechInSA grants, RHS has built significant know-how in the development of whole genome amplification and array Comparative Genomic Hybridisation tools.
In 2014 RHS launched its lead product EmbryoCellect™, a novel PCR and microarray system, which is used to help increase the chance of IVF success through preimplantation genetic screening (PGS). PGS has been shown clinically to increase IVF success rates, reduce miscarriage rates and reduce the effects of maternal age on IVF success.
RHS estimates that globally, between 2010 and 2013, the number of cycles women underwent in an attempt to conceive grew from 1.5 million to 1.7 million and that the global IVF market continues to grow at 10% per annum.
Success rates for IVF vary depending on a range of factors including the age and health of a woman, but generally they are low with around 30% of embryo transfers resulting in a pregnancy and then slightly less in a live birth. Almost half of the embryos created by IVF contain an incorrect number of chromosomes and less than 5% of these embryos achieve a clinical pregnancy. PGS, which identifies chromosomally normal embryos for transfer, has been clinically shown to significantly increase the chance of successful IVF.
“By pre-selecting chromosomally normal embryos for IVF transfer, our product will reduce the emotional turmoil and high costs associated with repeated cycles of IVF to achieve a healthy pregnancy,” said Dr Fraser.
Compared with similar screening products on the market, the RHS microarray is easier to analyse and has been specifically designed to count the number of chromosomes in a cell.
RHS CEO and Managing Director Dr Michelle Fraser believes that investors are becoming more receptive to biotechnology and IVF investments.
“Biotech is currently seen to be a good investment opportunity. There is also growing market familiarity with IVF, particularly following the ASX listings of Virtus Health Ltd and Monash IVF Ltd” she explained.
Dr Fraser has been involved with RHS since its early days as a start-up. Working as business development manager at BioSA (now TechInSA) in the mid-2000s, she helped the company to secure early stage State and Federal Government grant and investment funding.
“In this way, BioSA played an important role in assisting RHS to become a commercial entity,” she said.
The company received over $1 million in grants from both the Australian and South Australian Governments and raised $5.5 million in venture capital investment prior to its listing. At the time of listing, it had two shareholders: South Australian venture capital management fund Playford Capital and angel investor Single Cell Pty Ltd.
Looking forward, RHS will continue operations at the TechInSA Incubator in Thebarton and is planning to expand staff and services, as well as increase production of their testing kit and associated products.
“We’re confident that we can continue to be based here in Adelaide,” said Dr Fraser.
“RHS is a strong case study showing that we have enough people with the drive, expertise and track record to create biotechnology success stories right here in South Australia.”
To date, RHS has signed up EmbryoCellect™ distribution agreements with companies based in India, Israel, Turkey and South Africa. RHS is also assisting Morula IVF in Jakarta to establish a laboratory for using the RHS kit, which they plan to start offering to their patients in April 2015. At the time of writing, RHS had a market capitalisation of approximately $8.5 million and is priced at 18 cents per share.
For more information, please visit www.rhsc.com.au