EndoBarrier: An Endoscopic Alternative to Gastric Bypass

With 3000 calories and 229 grams of fat in the average Thanksgiving Day meal (just the meal itself!) – the morbidly obese may soon be looking for options to assuage their post-holiday guilt – while bettering their chances of long term survival.

According to the American Society for Bariatric Surgery, doctors perform 140,000 gastric bypass surgeries in the United States each year. The most common types are Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding.

About 1% of patients who are candidates for gastric bypass surgery actually have the procedure. Mortality risk is the major deterrent to broader use of the Roux-en-Y; although the estimated 1% rate is far lower than the perceived 10% mortality reported by patients and some physicians.

While all surgeries carry some risks, certain factors put patients in a high risk category for gastric bypass. According to a Duke University study these include: A body mass index of greater than 50, male gender, old age, hypertension and pulmonary embolus risk.

    GI Dynamics, a Watertown, MA based company is developing EndoBarrier, a technology designed to modify metabolic pathways by lining a portion of the gastrointestinal tract. This is done via an endoscopic procedure. The company’s a non-surgical, noninvasive approach makes it unique among surgical obesity interventions; it offers a potentially safer alternative to gastric bypass with more rapid recovery and lower costs, applicable to wider range of patients.

    EndoBarrier changes the metabolic pathway by controlling how food moves through the digestive system. The device affects the patient’s uptake of nutrients and calories. As in Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, food bypasses the duodenum and proximal jejunum.

    The reversible procedure eliminates hospital stays while minimizing the potential for morbidity and mortality of traditional bariatric surgeries.

    GI Dynamics has raised $46 million in three rounds of VC financing from companies including Advanced Technology Ventures, Cutlass Capital, Domain Associates, Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation and Polaris Venture Partners. The EndoBarrier is an investigational device currently in clinical trials.

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