Allurion, a Natick company making a gastric weight-loss balloon that doesn’t require an operation, doesn’t yet have regulatory approval to sell in the United States.
But Allurion does sell the Elipse Balloon in Europe and the Middle East, and with 15,000 sold in its three years in those markets, Allurion has made a major expansion with high hopes.
“It’ll allow us to touch the lives of millions, if not billions, of people around the world,” Shantanu Gaur, Allurion’s CEO and co-founder, said Friday, officially opening the company’s new 10,000-square-foot office and lab on Erie Drive in Natick.
The new space more than doubles the square footage of the company’s old building down the street, and gives Allurion the capacity to make 200,000 Elipse Balloons a year.
In 2019 alone — the company’s 10th anniversary — Allurion has grown from 40 employees to 100.
With U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval expected next year and a market debut in late 2020, Gaur thinks the company can hit the 200,000-a-year figure in the next four or five years.
Gastric balloons, which help people lose weight by taking up space in their stomach, have been around for a long time. But Allurion’s balloon can be swallowed in a capsule in a quick doctor’s office visit, and is inflated through a catheter to about the half the size of the stomach, large enough to help a patient lose 10% to 15% of their body weight.
After four months, a polymer wears away, the balloon deflates and then passes naturally through the body.
With high obesity rates in the United States, Allurion sees a major market on the horizon and has left itself plenty of room to expand at its new facility. But the company is also eyeing its next steps beyond the Elipse Balloon. After all, if the balloon is successful, patients won’t necessarily need it for long.
Allurion has created a Bluetooth-connected scale and is piloting a nutritional program. Gaur sees a potential for similar easy-to-use products in other health areas, such as a more friendly version of transcranial magnetic stimulation, an office procedure meant to help people with depression whose symptoms don’t improve with medication.
Gaur started what would become Allurion with a fellow Harvard Medical School student, Samuel Levy, using their apartment as their first lab. Levy, the company’s Paris-based president, and Ram Chuttani, its chief medical officer, stood beside Gaur for a ceremony with family members and employees.
The privately held company has raised $60 million in capital, with its largest investor Romulus Capital in Boston, Gaur said. Friday’s ribbon cutting at its new facility doubled as Allurion’s 10th anniversary, and Gaur used the occasion to look both back and ahead.
“In the next 10 years,” Gaur said, “we’ll ask, how can we have (customers) with us for not just four years but for decades?”