EndoSphere – 2012 Fierce 15

Jim McKinley, CEO of EndoSphere

Based: Columbus, OH
Founded: 2006
Website: EndoSphereInc.com

The Scoop: EndoSphere has developed an implantable weight-loss device that essentially tricks the stomach into thinking it has consumed more food than it really has, all without the need for surgery.

What Makes It Fierce: EndoSphere has plotted its own course in the world of weight-loss treatments. For patients looking to shed pounds, on the one hand, there's diet and exercise, which EndoSphere says fails for 95% of people. On the other, there are invasive devices that require bariatric surgery, like Allergan's ($AGN) Lap-Band.

"Those are pretty serious procedures," EndoSphere CEO Jim McKinley says. "Not something someone would do to just lose 25 pounds and just needs some help."

That led the company to develop SatiSphere, its endoscopically implantable device with a simple premise: It curbs appetite by making patients feel full.

The device is implanted at the duodenum--where the small intestine meets the stomach--via an endoscope, thus not requiring surgery, sutures or recovery time. Once there, it slows down the passage of food being digested, causing the stomach to send signals to the brain that it is full before it normally would, thereby decreasing a patient's food intake.

EndoSphere got a CE mark for the device in April, and the company expects to stage a commercial launch around the world next year. McKinley says the company wants to cull as much data as possible before making its case to the FDA in 2014.

Right now, EndoSphere is negotiating agreements with distributors, and the company plans to skip payers and market directly to consumers. McKinley estimates the end cost of a SatiSphere procedure will be between $5,000 and $10,000, which, compared with the money patients spend on fruitless weight-loss methods, is a reasonable sum.

"There's already a very large aesthetic market," he says. "More than 60 million people are on diet and exercise plans that are not supported by insurers, and our technology is in the same price range as a year of Jenny Craig."

What To Look For: EndoSphere is in the midst of a Series B financing round, having closed $4 million of the $5 million it seeks. That money will support next year's rollout, after which the company will gather post-market data to expand adoption of the technology. "Until we have it in the first thousand patients," McKinley says, "we're not gonna know how big a fish we've caught."

-- Damian Garde (email | Twitter)

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EndoSphere – 2012 Fierce 15