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New approach to diabetes, bariatric surgery planned by Minnesota firm

A stealthy Minnesota medical device company is moving ahead with plans to develop a minimally invasive approach to bariatric surgery and better solve the problem of type 2 diabetes.

A stealthy Minnesota medical device company is moving ahead with plans to develop a minimally invasive approach to bariatric surgery and better solve the problem of type 2 diabetes.

MetaModix is one-third of the way through a $1.9 million angel round, according to a federal regulatory filing and company executives. It is using the money to develop its product and perform some preclinical testing. MetaModix hopes to be in European clinical trials by early next year, said Kedar Belhe, the company’s chief executive officer.

Belhe said the company is “developing a cost-effective minimally invasive therapy for type 2 diabetes” that mimics “certain elements of bariatric surgery through an endoscopic procedure.” The process would be an out-patient procedure that would last about 30 minutes, said Belhe, who worked in both the atrial-fibrillation and cardiovascular divisions at St. Jude Medical.

Belhe declined to say more, citing the competitive nature of the space. There are scores of startups offering different approaches to obesity and diabetes eager to address the $174 billion in costs related to diabetes each year. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration just broadened the use of Allergan’s Lap-Band device to include more patients, for example, and other approaches range from stomach stapling, embedding sensors or inserting sleeves in the body.

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Bariatric surgery often eliminates a patient’s type 2 diabetes. However, there are concerns over the procedure itself: from post-operative side effects to the long-term impact of the surgery.

MetaModix has been developing its new approach since the company started in May 2009. The company previously worked with university engineering students in Minnesota developing an intestinal liner to address diabetes. But the company is no longer working on that project, Belhe said.