Gelesis unveils novel non-invasive capsulated device for obesity and presents clinical data; appoints former Pfizer R&D president to board

BOSTON, MA, 4/22/10 -Boston-based medical technology firm Gelesis, Inc. unveiled its capsulated device Attiva™, and presented data showing that Attiva™ significantly increased the post-meal feeling of satiety and reduced hunger between meals in obese patients. This data was presented today at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) 19th Annual Meeting & Clinical Congress.

Attiva™, the first and only superabsorbent hydrogel composed entirely from food components, is administered in the form of small particles that are designed to swell after ingestion with water and occupy the gastric and intestinal cavities, inducing a feeling of satiety that lasts beyond its transit time in the stomach. Afterwards, it safely degrades in the colon and releases absorbed liquids. When fully swollen, the product creates very small and individual gel beads that are mixed homogenously with the food in the stomach and also have the same elasticity and viscosity as foods.

"For the first time a group was able to overcome the enormous technical hurdles in creating a super-absorbent polymer made entirely out of food," said Dr. Robert Langer, Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and world leader in polymeric materials. "This opens the door for entirely new uses of polymers in medicine and offers hope in treating obesity which has become a serious health issue."

To measure its effect on satiety, Drs. Roberto Tacchino and Serena Marchisella at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome, Italy administered Attiva™ to 95 normal, overweight, and obese subjects with an average BMI (Body Mass Index) of 31. Subjects received two grams of Attiva™ versus placebo before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in a double-blind, cross-over study. Satiety was assessed using a self-administered questionnaire immediately, and 30 and 60 minutes after meals.

The results show that Attiva™ significantly increased the post-meal feeling of satiety, in addition to being safe and well-tolerated. At 30 minutes after breakfast and dinner, and at 60 minutes after lunch and dinner, Attiva™ achieved significantly higher satiety scores versus placebo. In addition, subjects who took Attiva™ prior to the start of lunch reported feeling less hungry prior to dinner. These results offer hope that Attiva™ could be a potential breakthrough approach to weight management and obesity.

"This is an exciting new approach to tackling obesity," said Dr. James Hill, Professor of Medicine & Pediatrics at the University of Colorado, and Past President of The Obesity Society (TOS), "This new hydrogel is an innovative way to effectively increase satiation while decreasing food consumption."

Attiva™ is currently under development by Gelesis, Inc., an obesity and diabetes-focused medical technology firm that has, until today, been in "stealth mode" regarding its technologies. Gelesis has two programs in clinical development, Attiva™, the subject of the data presented, and Gellica™, an Israeli biocompatible hydrogel.
Gelesis also announced today that Dr. John LaMattina has joined the company's Board of Directors. Dr. LaMattina is the former President, Pfizer Global Research and Development and Senior Vice President, Pfizer Inc.

"The growing obesity epidemic is having a cascading effect which will drive up the incidence of type 2 diabetes and heart disease," said Dr. LaMattina, "I'm excited about the Gelesis technology because it is a non-pharmacological approach and can potentially provide people with a novel way to gain control of their weight safely and efficaciously."

Gelesis was co-founded by PureTech Ventures, Exotech Biosolutions and a scientific advisory board of renowned obesity experts and scientists that includes: Dr. Hill; Caroline Apovian, MD, Director of the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management at Boston Medical Center and leading obesity clinician; Allan Geliebter, PhD, Senior Attending Psychologist, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, pioneer of the gastric balloon; Lee M. Kaplan, MD, PhD, Director of Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center and a leading researcher in gastric bypass surgery; and Stephen Woods, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Obesity Research Center at the University of Cincinnati who discovered fundamental mechanisms of satiation.

"We're extremely fortunate to have the support of so many of the world's leading scientists in obesity, polymer science and drug development. I'm delighted that John LaMattina will be joining this stellar group and his input has already been critical to the company's strategy," said Yishai Zohar, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gelesis.

The Attiva technology is the result of 15 years of research and was invented by Drs. Alessandro Sannino, from the University of Salento (Lecce, Italy), Prof. Luigi Ambrosio, from the National Research Council (CNR), and Prof. Luigi Nicolais, from University of Naples 'Federico II' and former Minister of Innovation of the Italian Republic.