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GSK and Alphabet to create bioelectronics medicines in £540 million partnership

Published on 01/08/16 at 08:45am

GlaxoSmithKline and Verily Life Sciences, a division of Google’s parent company Alphabet, have announced a £540 million partnership that will create Galvani Bioelectronics, a company that will research, develop and commercialise bioelectronics medicines.

Galvani will be headquartered in the UK, with GSK owning a 55% stake with Verily retaining the other 45%. The main site will be based in Stevenage, with a second research hub in San Francisco.

The pair indicates that it hopes to combine GSK’s R&D expertise with Verily’s technical prowess in the miniaturisation of power electronics, device development, data analytics and software development for clinical applications.

The venture will see the firm try to utilise the potential of the emerging bioelectronics medicine field, which aims to tackle a wide range of chronic diseases using miniaturised, implantable devices that can modify electrical signals that pass along nerves in the body, including the irregular or altered impulses that occur in many illnesses.

The initial work for Galvani will focus on establishing clinical proofs of principle in inflammatory, metabolic and endocrine disorders, such as type-2 diabetes, where substantial evidence of efficacy has already been seen in animal models.

Moncef Slaoui, GSK’s chairman of global vaccines, will chair the board at Galvani. He says: “Bioelectronic medicine’s vision is to employ the latest advances in biology and technology… If successful, this approach offers the potential for a new therapeutic modality alongside traditional medicines and vaccines.”

Brian Otis, chief technology officer at Verily, comments: “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.”

Sean Murray

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