Supporting a tech venture that could help reduce obesity
Nesta’s Impact Investments team backs tech ventures working in areas aligned with our 2030 impact goals. Nesta’s healthy life mission, looks to increase the number of healthy years lived by all, with an initial focus on tackling obesity. We have made our first investment of £500K towards this goal in Oxford Medical Products (OMP).
Nesta’s investment will help OMP to conduct its first in-human trials. If successful, this product could deliver meaningful (10%+) total body weight loss to a broad section of the population – initially those in the BMI 30-40 range (and either side of that in time as the evidence base expands). The company intends that its offer will be relatively cost effective compared to weight loss drugs currently available. Sirona can be taken for around six months and in this time it is hoped that the person trying to lose weight will have been supported develop healthy diet and lifestyle habits that will lead to sustained success. OMP is also looking to develop a weight maintenance programme to ensure long-term goals are achieved
With 28 % of people in the UK classified as obese and a further 36 % as overweight, plus a range of associated health conditions, there is a massive need to help people in their weight loss journeys. By investing in Sirona, a hydrogel that expands in the stomach and suppresses appetite for weeks at a time, Nesta Impact Investments is looking to take a big step forward in helping people lose weight and live healthier lives.
Sirona is intended to be taken as a series of pills, which rapidly expand in the stomach, remaining there for several days. Continuous effect is achieved by dosing on a weekly basis to ensure a constant feeling of fullness. The mechanism of action is like that of a gastric balloon: by taking up space in the stomach the patient feels full more quickly and consequently eats less, thereby losing weight.
Until recently the only widely used clinical intervention for obesity was surgery and take-up was very small. A range of promising treatments are coming to market, but we believe the mix of tolerability, efficacy and cost that OMP can offer will be amongst the best available.
We look forward to learning more about the ins and outs of these types of solutions to weight gain over the coming years as we work with OMP’s experienced and dedicated team.
“Obesity is one of the biggest health challenges we face which is why we need solutions that can be rolled out to millions of people who need it. Our pill is a pioneering hydrogel technology designed to help people reduce their appetite in a safe, accessible and non-invasive way that enables them to lose weight and keep it off over the long term. We are delighted that Nesta sees the potential for this technology and shares our mission to tackle obesity at scale.”Dr Camilla Easter, CEO of Oxford Medical Products