Obesity is an increasing health problem in the United States, affecting about 35% of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Due to the burden of the condition, numerous researchers, companies and institutions are dedicated to addressing obesity and helping patients who struggle with it. Apollo Endosurgery is one of these companies, as they are focused on offering effective surgical methods for obese patients where other weight loss methods have failed in helping them lose weight.
History of Apollo Endosurgery
Austin, Texas-based Apollo was founded in 2006 by Dennis McWilliams with support from the Apollo Group, an international think tank that includes globally recognized gastroenterologists and surgeons from the University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston, the Mayo Clinic, the Johns Hopkins University, the Medical University of South Carolina and the Chinese University-Hong Kong.
The idea behind the formation of the company was to address the unmet need to treat gastrointestinal diseases, such as obesity, chronic reflux and cancer. The company was founded based on disappointment in the lack of advancements on the field, a problem that the founders wanted to help solve. Almost a decade later, the company became a global innovator that works to provide less invasive treatment options to patients in more than 80 countries.
Mission of Apollo Endosurgery
Apollo is committed to revolutionizing the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders by developing and commercializing minimally invasive bariatric therapeutic options. According to the company, they position themselves between non-surgical weight loss methods and invasive surgeries, which allows the improvement of obesity treatment together with healthy diet and exercise. Apollo believes that they are contributing to a new global era of less invasive treatment for obesity and other gastrointestinal disorders.
The main purpose of the company is to make endosurgery available to a large number of patients and improve the methods. The novel surgical technique combines features from both laparoscopic surgery and therapeutic gastroenterology, and it reduces the trauma associated with a surgery. The procedure is able to do so by using the body’s natural orificies to gain access and insert the surgical instruments, and Apollo’s products are compatible with this approach.
Related to the company’s mission of providing advanced and flexible instruments is the commercialization of a series of products to treat gastrointestinal disorders at large scale. The most important product resultant from the partnership between the academic clinical experts and Apollo’s experienced corporate team and included in the company’s portfolio is its LAP-BAND Adjustable Gastric Banding System for patients who struggle with obesity and morbid obesity.
Apollo’s Lap-Band Adjustable Gastric Banding System
The Lap-Band was developed by the company Allergan and acquired by Apollo in 2013, after the approval of the product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The system is placed in the upper part of the stomach, creating a pouch and limiting food intake. Patients feel full faster and with smaller amounts of food, but unlike other more aggressive or invasive procedures, this one is adjustable and reversible.
The system was approved by the FDA for patients with Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than 30 and it requires regular visits to the doctor following the procedure. During this visits, the physician will adjust the size of the band by adding more or less saline solution, which will inflate or deflate the band and consequently its size. Due to this adjustment feature, patients are expected to meet more easily their weight loss goals.
Since 1994, more than 750,000 Lap-Band systems were already placed in patients worldwide. It is designed for long-term use, but it can be reversed or removed, according to physician’s recommendations. Among its major benefits, is the fact that it does not require the removal of part of the stomach, like other approaches. However, it comprises risks and potential complications, such as band slippage, erosion and deflation, reflux, obstruction of the stomach, dilation of the esophagus, infection, nausea or vomiting.
Apollo’s Additional Products
In addition to the Lap-Band, Apollo also commercializes OverStitch Endoscopic Suturing Systems, OverTube Endoscopic Access Systems and Tissue Helix. The OverStitch Endoscopic Suturing System was designed to be used by surgeons during endoscopic surgery and enable the placement of full-thickness sutures through a flexible endoscope. The OverTube Endoscopic Access System is meant to impre results of advanced endoscopic procedures, by providing safe access to the distal esophagus and stomach.
The Tissue Helix improves precise in the placement of sutures, through a atraumatic manipulation, together with the OverStitch Endoscopic Suturing System. The company is also working on the development of a SuMO™ Endoscopic Tissue Access and Resection System for the removal of large, flat precancerous gastrointestinal polyps during endoscopy procedures.