• #9 - Taking a Brand New Care of Overweight • MedicalExpo e-Magazine

    The Smart Magazine About Medical Technology Innovations

    New Care Solutions for Overweight

    “Most of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kill more people than underweight.” (WHO).

    Obesity has quickly become the 21st century’s worst health problem. This creates numerous opportunities for innovation. In this special feature, we talk about smart implants, non-invasive tools and innovative devices coming both from large providers and recent start-ups

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    The results at 18 months are promising because patients with a sham operation regained weight and the patients being treated with the activated device did not.


    If diet, increased physical activity and medication do not sufficiently reduce weight in severely obese people, a new electronic device may help. The Maestro Rechargeable System by US-based EnteroMedics targets the nervous system and blocks vagus nerve signals between the brain and the stomach. Thus, it curbs hunger...

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    The first step was to recognize that people had been trying to fill that gap for quite some time.


    The Elipse  is a novel intragastric balloon for weight loss treatment by Allurion Technologies that does not require invasive medical procedures or anesthesia when being placed inside or removed from a patient’s body. Dr. Shantanu Gaur, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Allurion Technologies, recounts his company’s path to innovation.

    Interview Of Dr. Shantanu Gaur

    Interview Of Dr. Shantanu Gaur

    Chief Scientific Officer, Allurion


    MedicalExpo e-magazine: Shantanu, when most medical students still learn how to take patients’ histories, you co-founded your own healthcare company with your classmate Samuel Levy in 2009. How did you come up with the idea?

    Dr. Shantanu Gaur: We were in our second year at Harvard Medical School, and very interested in developing medical devices for large unmet needs. So Sammy and I would keep a running list of different problems and ideas that came up during our lectures.

    What struck us about weight loss and obesity was that between diet and exercise on the one end of the treatment spectrum, and weight loss surgery on the other, there were very few solutions available. There was a clear gap, which we wanted to fill.

    ME: What were the main steps you had to take, until actually holding The Elipse  in your hands for the first time?

    SG: The first step was to recognize that people had been trying to fill that gap for quite some time. And from studying the clinical literature, we found that intragastric balloons were the most widely tested devices in that category.

    But while proven safe and effective, intragastric balloons were limited by a need for endoscopy and anesthesia, when implanting and removing them. That raised the total cost of the therapy, and also made it necessary to work with endoscopy-trained gastroenterologists.

    So we thought it would be a pretty neat idea, to take the balloon concept, but make it a procedureless treatment, that different types of physicians could offer. Once we had a really good sense of what we wanted to create, we went to the fabric store, got some raw materials, and hand-stitched our very first prototype. From that we filmed a video, to help us raise some money.

    Around that time, we also got connected to Dr. Ram Chuttani and Jonathan Wecker, who were key in the formation of our company, and in building our network of investors, so that we could do more sophisticated prototyping.

    It can be swallowed and excreted without endoscopy or anesthesia


    ME: Which features of your device do you consider to be the most innovative?

    SG: The innovation that really gave rise to Allurion is the ability to build a balloon from film that is extremely thin, yet strong and chemically resistant enough to last in the stomach. It can be swallowed and excreted without endoscopy or anesthesia. When we did our first human study in October 2013, we used a balloon that lasted for six weeks. The one we are using in our most recent clinical trial this year is intended to last for four months.

    ME: With a view to commercializing your product, can you tell us something about the key areas you are currently working on?

    SG: We are in the process of applying for the European CE marking, and we intend to start commercializing The Elipse  in Europe after we get approval. Simultaneously, we are contemplating our U.S. FDA strategy, and hope to start collecting some U.S. clinical data in the near future. Once we feel comfortable with the clinical data, and have the European approval, a lot more markets around the world open up to us, and we will consider them very seriously.

    ME: Is there something the healthcare industry can learn from your path to this innovation?

    SG: What everyone in medicine should understand now is that innovation comes from the most unlikely places. It does not take a seasoned medical device executive or a very senior physician to come up with a good idea. All it takes is a really keen understanding of a common problem, and a simple solution that a lot of consumers would want. That is really where the biggest innovations in healthcare are going to come from in the coming years.

    Hot Topic
    To determine which technique is the best for which patient and under what circumstances remains an open question


    Although obesity is a chronic problem, most weight-loss programmes based on dietary restriction unfortunately do not lead to long-term weight reduction. The average dieter often finds that over time, they end up heavier than when they began dieting. On the other hand, bariatric surgery, even in morbidly obese...

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    Celia Sampol

    Celia Sampol is a journalist with 13 years of experience in Paris, Brussels and Washington. She’s now the editor-in-chief of MedicalExpo e-magazine.

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    Nishita Chandra

    Nishita Chandra is a research associate at IQ4I Research and Consultancy pvt, Ltd.

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    Kristina Müller

    Kristina Müller is a freelance journalist writing mainly about nautical and medical issues.

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    Kerry Sheridan

    Kerry Sheridan is an authors and health journalist based in Miami, Florida.

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    Jane MacDougall

    Jane MacDougall is a freelance medical writer and journalist based near Paris.

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    Christina Kuhrcke

    Christina Kuhrcke is a Berlin-based freelance journalist, doctor and digital storyteller.

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    Sabine Goldhahn

    Sabine Goldhahn is a freelance science journalist and medical researcher based in Switzerland.

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