More than one in 10 people around the world are classified as obese, defined as having a BMI (body-mass index) of 30 or higher. In the United States, that number jumps dramatically to one out of every three American adults. For people with a BMI over 40, bariatric surgery has become the gold standard for weight reduction, either by implanting a gastric band or causing food to bypass the stomach. The surgery, which can lead to significant side effects, usually is not covered by insurance for people with a BMI between 30 and 40. Other options such as intra-gastric balloons are only temporarily effective.
Israeli startup Nitinotes is developing a technology that will bring the long-term benefits of bariatric surgery to individuals with a lower BMI, while avoiding the dangers of surgery and potentially at a lower cost.
Nitinotes’ Endozip is an automated suturing system performed via endoscopy – through the mouth, rather than under the knife – to connect the anterior and posterior walls of the stomach. “The knife will become unused in a decade or two. All procedures are going to be noninvasive,” Nitinotes CEO Raz Bar-On tells ISRAEL21c.
Once the surgeon has everything lined up and the Endozip device in place in a patient’s stomach, the surgeon simply presses a button and Endozip does the stitching with consistent accuracy. “This makes the procedure more reproducible,” Bar-On says. “It depends on the device rather than the hands of the doctor, which results in a shorter learning curve.”
Endozip is a single-use disposable device that comes with all the sutures and clips required for the procedure. That means no cleaning and sterilizing is required. Bar-On envisions Endozip being used as an outpatient procedure under minimal anesthesia, rather than in an operating room with an in-hospital recovery period. The patient should be able to go home the same day.