GSK and Verily form Galvani to develop bioelectronic medicines

Bioelectronics is a new medical field that aims to tackle chronic diseases, such as arthritis and asthma, with implantable devices that can modify electrical signals that pass along nerves in the body

  • GSK links up with Alphabet, Google's holding company

  • To form a new company dedicated to the development of bioelectronic medicines

  • GSK will own 55% of the new UK-based business and Verily the remaining 45%

GSK has formed a new company with Alphabet's Verily Life Sciences to develop bioelectronic medicines

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has linked up with Alphabet, Google's holding company, to form a new company dedicated to the development of bioelectronic medicines.

The UK drugmaker and Alphabet's Verily Life Sciences – formerly Google Life Sciences – are setting up Galvani Bioelectronics to develop and commercialise of bioelectronic medicines.

GSK will own 55% of the new UK-based business and Verily the remaining 45%.

Galvani Bioelectronics will be based at GSK's main research centre in Stevenage in the UK, with a second research location at Verily's facilities in South San Francisco, US.

GSK and Verily will contribute existing intellectual property rights and an investment of up to £540 million over seven years, subject to successful completion of various discovery and development milestones.

Galvani Bioelectronics will combine GSK's drug discovery expertise with Verily's technical expertise in the miniaturisation of low power electronics for clinical applications

Bioelectronics is a new medical field that aims to tackle a wide range of chronic diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes and asthma, with miniaturised, implantable devices that can modify electrical signals that pass along nerves in the body.

If successful, this approach could offer a new way to treat disease, alongside conventional medicines and vaccines.

GSK has been researching the potential of bioelectronic medicines since 2012.

This is an ambitious collaboration allowing GSK and Verily to combine forces and have a huge impact on an emerging field

Galvani Bioelectronics will bring together GSK's drug discovery and development expertise and understanding of disease biology with Verily's technical expertise in the miniaturisation of low power electronics, device development, data analytics and software development for clinical applications.

Initial work will centre on establishing clinical proofs of principle in inflammatory, metabolic and endocrine disorders, including type 2 diabetes, and developing associated miniaturised, precision devices.

Moncef Slaoui

Moncef Slaoui, GSK's Chairman of Global Vaccines, who was instrumental in establishing GSK's investments in the field of bioelectronics, said: 'Many of the processes of the human body are controlled by electrical signals firing between the nervous system and the body's organs, which may become distorted in many chronic diseases.

'Bioelectronic medicine's vision is to employ the latest advances in biology and technology to interpret this electrical conversation and to correct the irregular patterns found in disease states, using miniaturised devices attached to individual nerves,' he said.

Brian Otis, Verily's Chief Technology Officer, said: 'This is an ambitious collaboration allowing GSK and Verily to combine forces and have a huge impact on an emerging field.

'Bioelectronic medicine is a new area of therapeutic exploration, and we know that success will require the confluence of deep disease biology expertise and new highly miniaturised technologies.'

Galvani will initially employ around 30 scientists, engineers and clinicians, and will fund a range of collaborations with both parent companies, academia and other R&D companies.

Kris Famm, GSK's Vice President of Bioelectronics R&D, has been appointed President of the new company.

Famm has pioneered work in both large and small molecule drug discovery and worked for a decade developing and delivering R&D strategy with a recurring focus on emerging technologies.

He has co-designed and led GSK's exploration of bioelectronics.

A seven-member board, chaired by Slaoui, will also be appointed and will include Andrew Conrad, CEO of Verily.

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