Gelesis Near Multimillion Dollar Obesity Pill Deal [Globes, Tel
From Globes (Tel Aviv) (March 12, 2013)
March 12–Sources inform “Globes” that start up Gelesis Inc.,
which is developing a pill to treat obesity, is in advanced talks
for a multimillion deal with a big pharma company to jointly
develop the product.
Gelesis’s pill expands in the stomach to give the
sensation of being full, thereby reducing food intake and resulting
in weight loss. The company, founded in 2006, is examining the
results of its recently completed an efficacy clinical trial, and
is due to publish them soon. Although the company had the option of
presenting the product to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
as a nutritional supplement or medical device, it opted to present
it as a medication, on the assumption that, if approved, the
product’s profit margins would be higher. Even so, because
the pill does not enter the body’s cells or affect them, the
approval process should be fairly straightforward.
The sources said that, under the pending agreement, a foreign
company will provide Gelesis with a down payment and milestone
payments amounting to tens of millions of dollars. The big pharma
company will finance all of Gelesis’s future clinical trials
on the product and pay royalties on sales. The full value of the
agreement could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.
Gelesis was founded by CEO Yishai Zohar at Boston-based
incubator PureTech Ventures, and has raised $23 million to date
from Merck Co. (NYSE: MRK), OrbiMed Advisors LLC, Israeli
advanced hybrid composite materials developer ExoTech Bio Solutions
Ltd., and Australia’s Queensland Biocapital Funds.
Headquartered in Boston, Gelesis has an Israeli development
Gelesis’s pill is made from indigestible edible fiber
taken before a meal. The pills inflate in contact with water, make
food more viscous, keeping it in the stomach longer, and creating
the sense of being sated. The pills gradually biodegrade, releasing
the liquids, which are excreted through the intestine, but only
after keeping the food viscous, reducing the intestine’s
ability to absorb fats and sugars from the food.
In a study on 95 people several years ago, many reported a sense
of being sated, and only 16 percent said that they felt discomfort,
such as stomach aches or nausea. It may be possible to reduce these
side effects by personalizing the dosage.
The obesity treatment market currently includes various appetite
suppressants, but the leading solution for morbid obesity is
stomach bypass or reduction surgery. Although other products for
filling the stomach are under development, Gelesis’s edge is
that its product works with food.
(c)2013 the Globes (Tel Aviv, Israel)
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Distributed by MCT Information Services
Posted: March 2013