Biotech firm developing promising new obesity treatment

by Anne Zieger on September 29, 2010

Weight scaleBoston-based Gelesis has taken on no less a market than obesity, something of a golden city that few companies have reached. Observers are so excited that readers of industry publication FierceBiotech named Gelesis the top biotech company to watch this year. Now, the question is whether Gelesis can live up to the sexy reputation it enjoys in biotech and VC circles.

Founded in 2006, the company is based on a food-based polymer known Attiva which has been in development.  Attiva is a superabsorbent hydrogel, which is placed in a capsule and swallowed by the patient.

According to the company, the capsule swells to 100 times its original size once it’s within a patient’s stomach, something which makes obese patients feel rather full.  Instead of being absorbed, it’s excreted, an alternate approach to treatments requiring more invasive drugs or surgery.

So, is Attiva safe?  In a recent trial of 95 people, most subjects reported feeling satiated after treatment. Sixteen patients reported some side effects, but they were mild ones such as stomach aches and nausea.

Puretech Ventures was the initial investor the company;  OrbiMed Advisors and Queensland BioCapital Funds have since come in with Series A funding.

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