About Oxford Medical
Oxford Medical Products (OMP) is dedicated to developing a safe and affordable alternative to invasive weight loss surgery. Their breakthrough product, currently at preclinical trial phase, takes the form of a self-expanding capsule that simulates the sensation of fullness, reducing hunger and promoting healthy weight loss.
Oxford Medical Products is led by a group of scientists, medical professionals, and entrepreneurs who have come together to solve one of the world’s toughest and most urgent medical challenges. Professor Jan Czenurska, a world-renowned expert in hydrogels, and Dr. Hutan Ashrafian, a pioneering bariatric surgeon, realised they could combine their expertise to create something genuinely new to help people with weight loss. Dr. Camilla Easter and Dr. Nick Edwards, two medically trained entrepreneurs, joined Oxford Medical Products to turn this vision into a reality.
Over two-thirds of the developed world’s population is affected by excessive weight. OMP is here to change this and to hand millions the power to achieve a healthy weight.
“Weight gain is preventable but, despite over a hundred years of attempts, no universally safe and effective non-surgical weight-loss solution has been found,” says Dr. Camilla Easter, CEO of Oxford Medical Products
The majority of successful solutions involve surgery, which is both costly and invasive. Treatments that are low cost and widely available historically have poor results, with little or no lasting weight loss for the average person.
OMP recognised this issue and decided it was time to develop a safer and more affordable solution for people facing weight gain.
We spoke to Dr. Camilla Easter, CEO of Oxford Medical Products, about the challenges her company faced when developing their product, as well as how it works, how we got involved, and what it’s like working with ReAgent.
The Challenges of Developing Alternative Weight Loss Solutions
The goal of Oxford Medical Products is to make safe weight loss solutions accessible and affordable. The current issue is that even with the most effective pharmaceutical, side effects can be a nasty concoction of insomnia, constipation, nervousness, and even increased heart rate and blood pressure.
Dr. Easter tells us, “Obesity is incredibly complex; the use of pharmaceuticals often interacts in unwanted ways, leading to a range of different side effects. So, although there are weight loss medications out there, historically they haven’t been particularly well tolerated, leading to poor compliance and poor safety profiles”.
By understanding this, OMP knew from the get-go that developing yet another weight loss medication wasn’t an option. Instead, they turned their attention back to bariatric surgery, with the aim of mimicking how it works without the need to go under the knife.
How Bariatric Surgery Informed the Product Development Process
One aim of bariatric surgery is to reduce the stomach’s volume so that patients feel fuller even after eating a small amount of food.
OMPs’ solution achieves this in the same way as a gastric balloon. A gastric balloon involves putting a ‘balloon’ in your stomach, where it expands and takes up space, stimulating stretch receptors and making it feel as if you’ve eaten.
The placement of a gastric balloon requires a hospital visit, with sedation or anesthesia for endoscopic balloon placement, and the balloon then has to be removed again a few months later. OMP began focussing on the use of gastric balloons and how they could achieve the same results in a less invasive and more affordable way, without the need for a hospital visit, endoscopy or sedation.
They realised they could mimic the mechanism of a gastric balloon without the need for surgery, anaesthetics, or even a hospital appointment, and they could do it all in a capsule.
OMP’s Solution and How It Works
After three years of lab work, a capsule prototype has been developed using a unique hydrogel formula to mimic a gastric balloon without the need for surgery.
And this is where ReAgent comes in – OMP came to us for purified water and simulated gastric fluid (SGF). The main ingredients in SGF are hydrochloric acid and sodium chloride, and OMP use it to simulate conditions in the stomach and test the efficacy of their capsules.
Here’s a brief insight into how it works:
- Several capsules are taken as a normal pill. When they reach the stomach, they expand within 15 minutes until it takes up around 50% of the stomach, simulating the feeling of fullness.
- The hydrogel stays in the stomach for around 2-4 weeks, during which time it gets broken down.
- After it has been broken down, the capsule can be excreted naturally. The individual would then be able to redose the next month, resulting in a constant feeling of satiety.
The biggest benefit of this is it can happen without any external stimulus, meaning no hospital visits, invasive endoscopies or radiation exposure, and no repeat consultations. And importantly, no adverse side effects.
So far, results from early preclinical studies have been very positive. Camilla says, “We’ve been able to get the product to stay in the stomach for a prolonged period of time, as well as break down and pass out with no adverse side effects.”
Why Oxford Medical Products Chose ReAgent
Originally, OMP were making their own SGF. However, they realised that they weren’t able to guarantee its quality. As this is the number one priority for any medical product, OMP decided to outsource their manufacturing needs to a company that had the quality system and certifications to back it up – and this is how they found ReAgent.
When searching for contract manufacturers, the most important thing to OMP was finding one that had the right quality system in place. Ideally, this would at least involve accreditation to the ISO 13485 Standard for Medical Devices.
Since ReAgent is accredited to both the ISO 13485 and the ISO 9001 Quality Standard, we ticked OMP’s boxes when it came to quality management. Dr. Easter highlights another reason that prompted her to choose ReAgent over other manufacturers, “Initially, we were having [SGF] made up as a bespoke mixture, and [ReAgent] were one of the few who could do that.”
Camilla went on to say, “ReAgent are easy to work with. Everything’s been very straightforward, delivered on time, and comes with the right certificates and performance.”
How ReAgent Helped
Beyond handling the OMP’s SGF and purified water needs and carrying out stringent quality checks throughout the entire process, ReAgent was also able to help in terms of providing flexible packaging options.
Dr. Camilla Easter spoke to us about how our range of packaging materials and sizes not only meets her company’s current needs, but also paves the way for future growth, saying, “The fact that you can do smaller bottle sizes is great. We’re a little company, so we don’t want 100L drums showing up because we don’t have the infrastructure to deal with that. Eventually, though, we will have the infrastructure, so I like the idea that there’s an opportunity for us to grow from having 5L tubs up to having big drums, which we’ll eventually get to when we scale up.”
But the biggest way ReAgent has helped Oxford Medical Products is by giving them the reassurance that their product is in the right hands. Camilla ended our conversation by saying:
“For us, it’s about having the confidence that what ReAgent supply is what they say it is, which means when testing our products we have confidence that the testing solution is reliable.”