Deborah Brock is the founder of Nua Fertility, a health supplements start-up focused on helping women to conceive. The product is called NuaBiome Women and it was launched on the Irish market in August 2020 following three years of research and development in conjunction with Teagasc, UCC-based APC Microbiome and fertility and nutrition experts.
What makes Brock’s product different is its focus on the microbiome and specifically on gut health. “An imbalanced gut microbiome affects absorption of essential micronutrients and causes immune issues such as inflammation which affects implantation of the fertilised egg and has been associated with miscarriage,” Brock explains. “A healthy microbiome is essential to optimise fertility and NuaBiome Women combines fertility supporting vitamins and minerals with a blend of high-quality strains of good bacteria to promote healthy conception, egg health, and foetal development.”
Nua Fertility was inspired by Brock’s personal experience. “I met my soulmate, Mark, we got married and I thought I would get pregnant,” she says. “Unfortunately, this did not happen and I became a statistic.
“Our journey to become parents was far from straightforward and this led to the formation of Nua Fertility as my search for solutions, grounded in science, led me to understand the importance of nutrition and the amazing world of the microbiome and how it is a key determinant of our fertility health. Vitamins and minerals are very important for oocyte quality, maturation, fertilisation, and implantation, while antioxidants are vital to reduce oxidative stress which impacts both egg and sperm.”
Brock worked primarily in education and the charities sector before setting up Nua Fertility and is a graduate of the New Frontiers programme at IT Blanchardstown. Investment in the business to date has been in the order of €250,000, primarily privately funded with support from Wicklow local enterprise office and Enterprise Ireland.
The company is currently in fundraising mode with a view to raising €500,000. “We are now filling out business development and marketing roles and also looking for a scientific officer to join the company,” Brock says. “When the hires are complete we will be a team of seven.”
Production of NuaBiome Women is outsourced to a Europe-based global manufacturer chosen by Brock for its commitment to science and research. The product is available in Ireland and Britain through pharmacies and health stores and directly from the company's ecommerce platform which has seen orders flow in from all over the world.
Nua Fertility has three distributors covering 12 markets with Mexico about to come on stream and the company has also recently launched its Amazon UK brand store.
“Two things are really important to me, the science behind the product and the education piece,” Brock says. “So, we’re hoping to start clinical trials soon to support the fact that 60 women have become pregnant while taking our supplement. Also, coming from an educational background I am very passionate about educating couples and healthcare practitioners about how to get pregnant. When we’re growing up all the emphasis is put on how not to. I have a strong personal interest in the ‘how’ having been through seven rounds of IVF myself.”
NuaBiome Women is the company’s first product and there are several more in the pipeline including NuaBiome for men which has just been launched.
“Nua Fertility is highlighting the ground-breaking connection between fertility and the microbiome – an area that is often overlooked when trying to optimise our fertility health,” Brock says. “Our product intersects two rapidly growing international markets – probiotics and fertility supplements. The global probiotics market is expected to reach $57.4 billion by 2022 while the global fertility supplements market will be around $2.4 billion by 2024. Our addressable global market is around 145 million couples. One in eight couples worldwide experiences fertility issues and in Ireland it’s even higher at one in four.”