An estimated 200 million women suffer the pain of a “forgotten” disease.

Endometriosis is, in many cases, triggered by their first period, and it’s likely to stay with them until menopause.

It’s a chronic and progressive condition characterized by the growth of tiny lesions in the pelvic cavity. It’s the number one cause of infertility and can spread to other organs, sometimes with fatal consequences.

It is, however, widely seen as a neglected disease. The symptoms – painful and heavy periods, pain during or after sex, pain going to the toilet during a period, difficulty getting pregnant – are easily confused with other conditions.

Endometriosis is difficult to diagnose, taking an average of seven to 11 years, and doctors still don’t fully understand it.

In the United States, more than half of patients end up undergoing diagnostic surgery before getting a definitive diagnosis.

Doctors usually prescribe hormonal therapy (such as the contraceptive pill) as a first line of defense, followed by keyhole surgery if that doesn’t work. But the surgery is often unsuccessful and needs to be repeated.

Hadas Ziso and her team at EndoCure, a new startup based in Haifa, northern Israel, are working on what they describe as a “transformative leap forward in the field.”

They’re developing a diagnostic tool that would, for the first time, allow physicians to clearly see the tiny “needle in a haystack” lesions – often measuring just 1 millimeter – that are invisible to standard imaging systems.

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EndoCure Founder and CEO Hadas Ziso is a Technion alumna.