California-based virtual company Endosphere is heading to Ohio to become a reality.
Endosphere, which is developing an implantable and incisionless weight loss device, was lured to Ohio by the promise of investment dollars. Executive chairman Chris Thorne also lives in Columbus, Ohio suburb New Albany.
The medical device maker, formrely based in Redwood City, Calif., qualified for Ohio’s Technology Investment Tax Credit and is in discussions with several Ohio angel investors, CEO Jim McKinley said. The company is looking to fullfill a $2 million Series A round that it will use to fund clinical studies of its device. McKinley is confident he can find that money in Ohio.
It will likely be a while before the move to Ohio translates into increased employment numbers in the state. The company is focused first on introducing the device in Europe and hopes to obtain regulatory clearance to sell the device there in 2012.
McKinley, a medical device entrepreneur, has worked on the project out of his home for the last few years, hiring the occasional consultant to help with regulatory matters. He hopes to begin hiring an Ohio staff within a year or two.
Endosphere’s device was pioneered by Dr. Kenneth Binmoeller, a San Francisco-area gastroenterologist who works as medical director of the interventional endoscopy service at California Pacific Medical Center. The device is inserted with an endoscope through a patient’s mouth and stomach, and then placed on the duodenum — the upper part of the smaller intestine that breaks down food.
The device, called the SatisSphere, can be placed in the small intestine in about 15 minutes, taken out in five minutes, if necessary, and doesn’t require any suturing or hooks to hold it in place. Rather, it conforms to the shape of the duodenum. “It’s like setting a cup of coffee on a saucer,” McKinley said.
The device works by slowing the passage of food through the duodenum. Because food is in contact with the duodenum for a longer time, the device essentially fools the body into thinking that more has been eaten than actually has, McKinley said.
Thus far, Endosphere has performed limited human testing on the device, but McKinley likes what he’s seen. Eleven patients were implanted with the device for about a month. The device caused no safety problems, and all the patients lost weight without changing their diets or exercise habits, according to McKinley.
“We feel we’ve got a good start, but obviously 11 patients [aren’t] what you’d need for approval,” he said.
McKinley plans to travel to Europe in coming months to begin relationships with potential customers, primarily bariatric surgeons who work in private clinics. The company will initially focus on what McKinley calls “the aesthetic market” — mostly wealthy people who may not be obese but would like to lose weight.
After that, Endosphere will focus its efforts on obtaining clearance from the Food & Drug Administration to begin selling the device in the United States.