Today, after 15 years of work, a Boston-based company focused on obesity and diabetes came out of stealth mode. Gelesis Inc. unveiled something that promises to make losing weight a lot easier.
Nothing on the immediate horizon could be more important for most of us who have diabetes. More than 85 percent of us are overweight or obese, according to a survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While I lost a lot of weight by using the first GLP-1 mimetic, Byetta, and then more by following a very low-carb diet, it wasn’t easy. That personal experience is in part what makes me so excited about the product that Gelesis presented to the public for the first time today.
The company made its presentation at a media briefing that I was privileged to attend. Health Central sent me to Boston this week to attend the 19th annual meeting and clinical congress of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. About 1,700 doctors from all over the world are here for the association’s largest meeting ever.
I arrived in Boston yesterday evening, and for me the meeting started with the media briefing this morning. It started with a bang as two doctors presented the results of their efforts to date. After the briefing, I cornered four other experts involved with the development of their product.
Dr. Hassan Heshmati, the chief medical officer for Gelesis, kicked off the presentation. He announced that they have developed the first superabsorbent hydrogel composed entirely of food components. They call it Attiva.
It swells up after people swallow it, making people feel full. This feeling of satiety lasts even after it goes through the stomach into the intestines. Then it safely degrades in the colon and releases the liquids that it absorbs, one of Attiva’s important safety features.
They designed Attiva to have the same physical properties as masticated food. The most common side effect was nausea. But only about 7 percent of the people in their clinical trial experienced it, Dr. Heshmati said.
After Dr. Heshmati’s introduction of Attiva, Eric Elenko, Ph.D., showed us what Attiva can do. Dr. Elenko is a partner in Puretech Ventures, which co-founded Gelesis.
Eric Elenko Shows How Absorbent Attiva Really Is
To measure Attiva’s effect on satiety, doctors at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome, Italy, gave it to 95 people. While some of them had a normal weight, others were overweight or obese, and they had an average body mass index of 31. [Read more →]