Orbera Gastric Baloon

Four Biotech Innovations for Obesity

Medical technology companies seem to be making progress this year, bringing biotech innovations for obesity closer to approval for U.S. availability. It’s been more than a decade since the Lap-Band was first approved for obesity treatment in the U.S. Now four technologies are making progress.

  1. Vagal Blockade. EnteroMedics won a mixed, but favorable, review for its Maestro VBloc device from an FDA advisory committee in June, lifting hopes that this technology would be making its way toward an FDA approval soon. The device works by intermittently blocking vagal nerve signalling for hunger, without requiring permanent alterations to gastrointestinal anatomy.
  2. Gastric Balloons. Technology for gastric balloons has been available elsewhere in the world for some time, but not in the U.S., due to safety concerns with earlier versions of this technology. Newer versions, such as the ReShape Duo gastric balloon, may have overcome these concerns. ReShape Medical announced yesterday that they have filed an application with FDA to market this new gastric balloon in the U.S.
  3. Intestinal Barrier. GI Dynamics is in the midst of a large clinical trial of their EndoBarrier device for the treatment of obesity at 25 sites in the U.S. The device prevents absorption of nutrients in the upper part of the small intestine and is believed to alter some of the neurohormonal signalling that plays a role in obesity.
  4. Gastric Gel. Gelesis recently presented results of a clinical trial of their gastric gelling device at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society. The Gelesis100 works by delivering gel-forming particles to the stomach, where it forms a gel and swells. In turn, this gel mass creates a sense of fullness and slows the absorption of food. In their 12-week trial, subjects who received the Gelesis100 device lost 6% of their initial weight, compared to those on placebo who lost 4%.

For people seeking a miracle obesity cure, none of these technologies will offer that. After all is said and done, the average efficacy for each of these treatments will be modest. But some people will respond very well.

What these technologies offer is the possibility of more evidence-based options for improving the health of people with obesity.

Click here to read more in the Boston Globe. Click here for more about the Maestro VBloc device, here and here for more about the ReShape Duo gastric balloon, here for more about the EndoBarrier, and here for more about the Gelesis100 device.

Orbera Gastric Baloon, photograph © Apollo Endosurgery

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