CEO: Jonathan Wecker
Based: Natick, Massachusetts
Allurion Technologies’ goal is to help people realize their full potential with innovative, scalable products, according to Chief Scientific Officer Shantanu Gaur. To that end, the company is focusing on a treatment for obesity: a swallowable weight-loss balloon that is passed naturally at the end of treatment.
People who are overweight or obese are at higher risk for many diseases and conditions, ranging from stroke and heart disease to Type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis, making obesity an impactful launching point for the company.
What makes Allurion fierce
In addition to lifestyle changes, weight-loss drugs and gastric bypass surgery or gastrectomy, obesity may be treated with a range of medical devices. These include electrical stimulation systems, gastric bands and gastric balloons.
But while a number of options exist for obesity treatment, they aren’t reaching as many people as they could. Allurion wants to change this.
“Existing [gastric balloons] are safe and efficacious, but they are very difficult to deliver,” said CEO Jon Wecker. These devices are placed and removed by endoscope, requiring a specially trained physician—a gastroenterologist who is also an endoscopist—as well as an endoscopy suite and a fair amount of time, he said.
Allurion is developing the Elipse Balloon, which is swallowed as a capsule attached to a catheter in an outpatient procedure that does not require endoscopy or anesthesia. The device is then filled with liquid, which helps the patient to lose weight by making them feel full and eat less. At the end of the treatment period, the balloon deflates and is naturally passed from the body. By removing the need for endoscopy, Allurion is slashing the cost of treatment with a gastric balloon.
“Our device can be priced at least 30%, maybe as much as 50% less than competing devices,” Wecker said. Additionally, by eliminating the need for a trained endoscopist or gastroenterologist, more physicians may be able to offer the treatment.
Allurion launched the device in the U.K., France and Italy in January last year. While the Elipse Balloon is not yet FDA-approved, it is now available in 10 countries, including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
“What’s special about this company is that it was founded by a bunch of outsiders, people without much experience in the medical device industry,” Gaur said. “What we narrowed in on was this gigantic unmet need that was desperate for a product.”
And to help take the company to the next level, he said, the team appointed four new board members who have had experience scaling companies in the medtech and consumer spaces, and made successes of companies at the stage Allurion is now.
What to look for
In July, Allurion bumped its series C round up to $27 million, which is bankrolling its FDA pivotal trial. The funds are also supporting the company’s commercial expansion in Europe and the Middle East, as well as the scaling of its manufacturing to meet demand.
The company plans to start enrolling for the FDA trial early next year and hopes to recruit about 400 patients within six to eight months, said Ram Chuttani, M.D., Allurion’s senior medical adviser.