Devices & Diagnostics

Five innovative obesity treatments as America prepares to unbutton its post-Thanksgiving pants

You’ve cracked open the crate of cranberries, stuck the turkey in the oven and are well into filling your second muffin tin with cornbread batter. And just in time for dinner, MedCity is here to talk about innovative obesity treatments, both pharmaceutical options and medical devices. 1) An endoscopic option for patients who are just a […]

You’ve cracked open the crate of cranberries, stuck the turkey in the oven and are well into filling your second muffin tin with cornbread batter. And just in time for dinner, MedCity is here to talk about innovative obesity treatments, both pharmaceutical options and medical devices.

1) An endoscopic option for patients who are just a little overweight

ReShape Medical has created a dual-balloon that’s inflated in the stomach to make a patient feel full, and couples the device with a program that focuses on nutrition and behavioral changes. It’s for patients with BMIs between 30 and 40, rather than surgical alternatives, which are targeted at patients who are more obese.

 

2) A drug that replicates effects of gastric bypass

Though the fen-phen scare has left its mark on treating obesity with drugs, it isn’t keeping biotech startups from pursuing weight loss pills as a viable option for obesity treatment.

“Despite an inauspicious history, the pharmacological management of obesity is at an exciting crossroads.  New treatments are essentially on the horizon, and novel research strategies have very recently come to the fore. However, it must be emphasised that only limited behavioural data are available on many of these treatments, including those currently undergoing regulatory approval.” (Halford et al., 2010; Kennett and Clifton, 2010; Rodgers et al., 2010).

The way the pill works just needs to be more innovative. Chapel Hill, N.C.’s BioKier is at work on a drug that would replace gastric bypass. It’s one of the first startups the American Heart Association has funded.

In an interview with MedCity News, Roger Nolan, the president of the company, said though there are other drugs that offer an alternative to surgery, he sees his company’s drug as offering a safer alternative because it’s using nutrients to naturally restore a function in the body.

 

3) Digestible balloons

If PlenStat is successful, you may be able to swallow a capsule that interacts with stomach acid to inflate into a balloon. According to the company website, the balloon would ‘live’ in the body for 14 to 30 days, before breaking down and passing through. From the company website:

The size of the Digestible Balloon is such that between five and 10 will be resident in the stomach to achieve the desired effect. The capsules can be ingested over several days and this slow introduction of the change in stomach volume will eliminate one of the major drawbacks to current Bariatric therapies. Current techniques, including surgical modifications, the Lapband and the endoscopically placed balloons, all have the potential side effect of severe gastrointestinal disruption leading to dehydration and hospitalization due to the immediate change in stomach volume.

Watch a video of the treatment in action here.

 

4) Gastric electrical stimulation implants

These are implants that help the patient lose weight. Though EnteroMedics has been a front-runner of such tech in the U.S., recent FDA holdups might allow for other companies to gain some traction. That company’s obesity treatment, which curbs hunger, is set to have a panel decide on its premarket approval in early 2014, according to a company statement. Outside the U.S., IntraPace’s abiliti system offers a CE Marked implant that could be competitive.

 

5) Roche’s “dual-action molecule” that targets hormones linked to metabolism

A “glucagon-like” peptide added to work in tandem with GIPs could be a major breakthrough in Type 2 diabetes treatment and obesity treatment. Click here for an in-depth look at the research, announced Oct. 30.

For more on how glucagon might play a role in creating an artificial pancreas, click here.

Other weight loss innovations to keep in mind:

A “crystal ball” tool that can help patients see what kind of weight loss surgery might prove successful for them, and Google’s Helpouts offer a one-on-one weight loss consultation with a nutritionist. Despite setbacks, Orexigen recently announced it has proven its weight loss pill, Contrave, does not increase heart health risks. It will resubmit the drug with the FDA, hoping for a decision by mid-2014, according to Reuters.

Another procedure, gastric artery embolization, could also be a surgical option for weight loss in the future. Click here to read the in-depth look by the LA Times.

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Stephanie Baum helped research this story.