About 10 years ago, I ate a 72-ounce steak in one hour for an eating competition. Could I still eat that much if I had Allurion Technologies’ gastric balloon for weight loss inside me?
“If you tried to eat the whole thing, your body would definitely let you know that it isn’t the best idea,” Shantanu Gaur, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Allurion, wrote in an e-mail. “You may have only been able to eat a few bites of that steak before starting to feel full if you had our balloon in your stomach.”
Allurion has developed an inflatable device, called the Elipse Balloon, which is meant to prevent a far more serious problem than competitive eating. The Natick, MA-based company announced a $27 million Series C round of funding Tuesday to pay for a clinical trial that, if all goes well, will provide the evidence needed to gain FDA approval of the device in the U.S. for helping patients with weight loss. The company received approval in Europe in 2015; the product is also sold in the Middle East.
Part of Allurion’s pitch is that the device doesn’t require surgery like other procedures used for weight loss, such as gastric bypass. Instead, the Elipse Balloon is held in a capsule swallowed by a patient. The capsule is attached to a tube that is used to fill the balloon with 550 milliliters of a proprietary fluid, Gaur wrote. The inflated balloon can make patients feel full and satiated.
By filling up part of the stomach, the balloon helps people follow a low-calorie diet—typically around 1,200 calories per day—by helping remove some of the pangs of hunger, Gaur said. After four months, the balloon deflates and the fluid and balloon can pass naturally out of the body, Gaur wrote.
“There are no limitations on activity once the balloon is in the stomach and we encourage our patients to exercise and lead active lifestyles,” Gaur said.
During a presentation at the European Congress on Obesity, Allurion said a group of 38 obese patients it studied during a four-month period lost an average of 33 pounds, though the patients had a pretty scant meal plan during the last four weeks of the trial: only 700 calories per day.
The funding round was led by earlier investor Romulus Capital, along with participation from Cogepa and IDO. Allurion previously received $9.8 million in funding.