Gelesis claimed that Attiva, a superabsorbent hydrogel composed entirely from food components, is administered in the form of small particles that are designed to swell after ingestion with water and occupy the gastric and intestinal cavities, inducing a feeling of satiety that lasts beyond its transit time in the stomach.

To measure its effect on satiety, Drs Roberto Tacchino and Serena Marchisella at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome, Italy administered Attiva to 95 normal, overweight, and obese subjects with an average BMI (Body Mass Index) of 31. Subjects received two grams of Attiva versus placebo before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in a double-blind, cross-over study. Satiety was assessed using a self-administered questionnaire immediately, and 30 and 60 minutes after meals.

The results showed that Attiva increased the post-meal feeling of satiety, in addition to being safe and well-tolerated. At 30 minutes after breakfast and dinner, and at 60 minutes after lunch and dinner, Attiva achieved a higher satiety scores versus placebo. In addition, subjects who took Attiva prior to the start of lunch reported feeling less hungry prior to dinner. The results offer hope that Attiva could be a potential breakthrough approach to weight management and obesity.

James Hill, professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Colorado, and past president of The Obesity Society (TOS), said: “This is an exciting new approach to tackling obesity. This new hydrogel is an innovative way to effectively increase satiation while decreasing food consumption.”

Dr Robert Langer, institute professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and world leader in polymeric materials, said: “For the first time a group was able to overcome the enormous technical hurdles in creating a super-absorbent polymer made entirely out of food. This opens the door for entirely new uses of polymers in medicine and offers hope in treating obesity which has become a serious health issue.”