BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Gelesis, a biotechnology company developing first-in-class mechanotherapeutics to treat obesity and other chronic diseases related to the gastrointestinal (GI) pathway, today announced the appointment of Harry Leider, M.D., M.B.A., former Chief Medical Officer and Group Vice President of Walgreens, as Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President of Gelesis. The Company has also appointed Paul Fonteyne, Chairman and former CEO of Boehringer Ingelheim USA, to the Board of Directors.
“Paul and Harry each bring extensive track records of successfully launching innovative products and services that have changed the practice of medicine,” said Yishai Zohar, Chief Executive Officer of Gelesis. “I am honored and excited to welcome Paul and Harry to our seasoned commercial team. Their commercial and clinical expertise, along with their strategic business perspectives from different sectors of the health care system, will be instrumental in advancing Gelesis on our path towards commercial success.”
Prior to joining Gelesis, Dr. Leider served as Chief Medical Officer and Group Vice President at Walgreens since 2013, where he provided executive leadership for all clinical program development, quality assessment, health outcomes research, health analytics, and clinical reporting activities across the enterprise. He also led a team that evaluated new healthcare technologies and services. His previous leadership positions include serving as Chief Medical Officer of Ameritox, XLHealth, and HealthNet, in addition to serving as a physician executive at Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan for six years. Dr. Leider is on the editorial boards of Physician Executive and the Journal of Population Health Management. He is also a founding board member of the Disease Management Association of America (DMAA) and served on the board of the Institute of Aging at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Leider also served for six years as an attending physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and faculty member at Harvard Medical School. More recently, Dr. Leider was a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business and has been a senior advisor to PureTech Health since 2015.
“Gelesis represents an entirely new category of medicine with a unique platform that has been designed to safely and effectively treat obesity and chronic gastrointestinal-related diseases. This provides us with an innovative approach to address significant global health issues that need fresh thinking to solve,” said Harry Leider, M.D. “The clinical efficacy and safety data supporting Gelesis100 are very compelling, especially its unprecedented safety profile, which opens up potential that has not existed in this category to date. I look forward to bringing this differentiated product candidate to patients, if approved.”
In his new role as Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Leider will be responsible for leading Gelesis’ overall medical strategy, including oversight of all medical affairs functions and programming with medical associations, patient advocacy groups, and other healthcare organizations. Dr. Leider will also play a key role in advancing the Company’s innovative pipeline of product candidates. Dr. Hassan Heshmati, Gelesis’ Founding CMO, will continue to oversee a range of clinical activities as Executive Vice President, Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Paul Fonteyne brings to the Gelesis Board of Directors a wealth of experience in commercial, marketing, and general management functions. During his time at Boehringer Ingelheim, Mr. Fonteyne has orchestrated a significant increase in the Company’s topline sales and growth of its human pharmaceuticals portfolio. Most significantly, Mr. Fonteyne was instrumental in several launches from the Company’s type 2 diabetes portfolio.
Mr. Fonteyne said, “Given the challenges associated with current treatments for obesity, I believe Gelesis’ innovative approach has the potential to disrupt and evolve the current treatment paradigms. I look forward to working with the Gelesis team as they grow into a leading biotechnology company with the goal of addressing high unmet medical needs.”
Mr. Fonteyne is Chairman of Boehringer Ingelheim USA. He also most recently served as President and CEO of Boehringer Ingelheim USA and as a board member of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Industry Association until March 2018. From 2009 to 2011, Mr. Fonteyne served as Senior Corporate Vice President, Prescription Medicines Marketing at Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH. From 2003 to 2008, he served as Executive Vice President, Head of Marketing and Sales, Prescription Medicines at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. Prior to his work at Boehringer Ingelheim, Mr. Fonteyne served as Regional Vice President, Sales and as Vice President, Marketing at Merck & Co., Inc. and held various leadership roles with Abbott Laboratories, Inc.
Gelesis100 is a new approach to weight loss that is designed to employ multiple mechanisms of action along the GI tract to promote satiety, induce weight loss and promote GI health. Gelesis100 is non-systemic and administered orally in capsules containing small hydrogel particles, which are made from two natural components that form a novel 3D structure. The novel hydrogel is manufactured through Gelesis’ multi-step, proprietary process and protected by nine families of patents through 2033, several of which have already been allowed or issued in major markets.
Gelesis100 capsules are taken with water prior to a meal, after which the small hydrogel particles are released from the capsules in the stomach and rapidly absorb water, hydrating to approximately 100 times their original size. Gelesis100 is designed to mix homogeneously with food and travel through the GI tract inducing satiety, reducing hunger, and causing weight loss. Once in the large intestine, Gelesis100 partially degrades and releases most of the water, which is reabsorbed by the body. The small gel particles pass through the body without being absorbed and are eliminated in the same manner as food.
Gelesis100 has been studied in more than 450 patients across five clinical studies throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe and in these studies has shown weight loss, increased satiety, reduced hunger, and a consistently strong safety profile.
Gelesis is developing a novel mechanobiology platform technology to treat obesity and other chronic diseases related to the GI pathway. Gelesis’ proprietary approach is designed to act mechanically in the GI pathway to potentially alter the course of chronic diseases safely and effectively. In September 2017, Gelesis completed a pivotal trial for weight loss evaluating its lead product candidate Gelesis100. Additionally, Gelesis is conducting a proof-of-concept study for its second candidate, Gelesis200, which is optimized for weight loss and glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. Novel hydrogel mechanotherapeutics based on the Gelesis platform technology are also being advanced through a pipeline with preclinical studies in other GI-related conditions such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The Gelesis executive and advisory team includes some of the world’s leading experts in obesity, chronic disease research, and clinical development, as well as materials science innovators, commercialization experts, and entrepreneurs. Gelesis is an affiliate of PureTech Health (PRTC.L), an advanced, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company. For more information, visit www.gelesis.com or connect with us on Twitter @GelesisInc.