Oxford medtech startup closes £1.2m for weight loss technology
Oxford Medical Products (OMP) has raised £1.2m in seed investment to develop a safe and affordable weight loss capsule, which uses the same mechanism of action as a gastric balloon, but can be taken at home. The funding will be used to complete pre-clinical testing, upscale and outsource manufacturing and grow the team.
The funding was led by Ada Ventures with Selvedge Venture alongside several angel investors including Dr Nick Edwards, a founder of the company, and Dr Jan Hruska, co-founder of Sophos.
OMP’s non-surgical weight loss technology Sirona, is a self-expanding hydrogel capsule that once swallowed expands in the stomach and occupies space. Sirona is designed to work continuously, reducing hunger and leading to significant weight loss. While it is designed to work in the same way as a gastric balloon, which has to be placed endoscopically in a hospital, Sirona can be used at home.
The capsules stay in the stomach for a prolonged period of time, so it is effective 24/7 and lasts several weeks before breaking down gradually and passing naturally over time, ensuring safety. The capsules expand rapidly in the stomach resulting in a feeling of satiety.
Current surgical solutions for weight loss start at around £4k per treatment. OMP will bring Sirona to the market at a fraction of this cost allowing millions of people with excess weight to access an effective and safe solution.
Excessive weight affects 1.9 billion people worldwide and is responsible for 80% of type 2 diabetes, and is the second biggest environmental cause of cancer. Excessive weight also places a big cost burden on the global economy, estimated at over $2tn every year.
Oxford Medical Products was founded in 2017 by Professor Jan Czenurska a world-renowned expert in hydrogels, and Dr Hutan Ashrafian a pioneering bariatric surgeon, who realised they could combine their expertise to help people with weight loss. Dr Camilla Easter and Dr Nick Edwards, two medically trained entrepreneurs, joined Oxford Medical Products to turn this vision into a reality.
Dr Camilla Easter, CEO of Oxford Medical Products, said: “Weight gain is preventable but, despite over a hundred years of attempts, no universally safe and effective non-surgical weight-loss solution has been found. All successful solutions involve surgery which is costly and invasive. Treatments that are low cost and widely available, historically have poor results, with little or no lasting weight loss for the average person. Oxford Medical Products is here to change this and to hand millions the power to achieve a healthy weight.”
OMP is currently conducting pre-clinical testing, with the first human studies scheduled for 2022, with the aim of launching a commercial product in 2024.
Check Warner, Founding Partner of Ada Ventures commented: “At Ada Ventures we are looking to fund bold, ground-breaking ideas which could positively impact billions of people in big markets. Excessive weight is undoubtedly one of the biggest health challenges we face as a society and is accelerating rapidly. Current ‘treatments’ for obesity are short term and ineffective or are not widely available and carry unnecessary risk. We are delighted to have led this fundraising round to bring Sirona to market and we look forward to supporting the company through the next phase of development."
Alasdair Thong, Founding Partner of Selvedge Venture said: “We’re thrilled to be part of the Oxford Medical Products' journey and to help develop its unique hydrogel platform technology. At Selvedge Venture, we have a focus on investing to alleviate the vast burden caused by chronic diseases including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and fatty liver disease and we have a huge belief that the development and commercialisation of Sirona will be a key piece of this strategy."
As part of the company’s growth, it is expanding its team and is currently hiring for a polymer scientist to help further develop Sirona and OMP’s platform technology.