GSK and Verily team up on innovative bioelectronic medicines

1 August 2016

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Google parent company Alphabet have partnered to develop miniaturised, precision electrical therapies for the treatment of chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes.

UK based GlaxoSmithKline has announced that it has signed an agreement with Verily Life Sciences, a division of Alphabet, to establish Galvani Bioelectronics. Glaxo will hold 55% of the company, which will be based at its global research and development centre in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. A second research hub will be established at Verily's base in San Francisco.

Bioelectronic medicine aims to tackle a wide range of chronic conditions with tiny implanted devices, smaller than grains of rice, which can read and modify electrical signals passing along the body's nerves. Faulty electrical signals between the nervous system and the body's organs are believed to be involved in several chronic conditions. Investing in understanding this ‘electrical language of the body’ could open a new frontier in treating disease, alongside conventional medicine and vaccines.

The joint venture will involve £520m investment over seven years, as well as both companies contributing existing intellectual property. GSK, who has been working on the emerging field since 2012, will bring its expertise in drug development and understanding of disease, while Verily will add theirs in miniature electronics, data and software for clinical purposes.

GSK's Chairman of Global Vaccines, Mocef Slaoui, will chair the board of the new company, which will initially concentrate on establishing clinical proofs of principle in inflammatory, metabolic and hormonal disorders, including type 2 diabetes, where animal studies have already produced substantial evidence of effectiveness. Alongside this, they will develop tiny implantable devices for use in patients.

Slaoui said: 'This agreement with Verily to establish Galvani Bioelectronics signals a crucial step forward in GSK's bioelectronics journey, bringing together health and tech to realise a shared vision of miniaturised, precision electrical therapies. Together, we can rapidly accelerate the pace of progress in this exciting field, to develop innovative medicines that truly speak the electrical language of the body'.

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