British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline and Google’s parent company Alphabet have announced they’re creating a new company to develop bioelectronic medicines. The joint venture will be named Galvani Bioelectronics and will be headquartered in the UK, with 55 percent of equity interest owned by GSK and 45 percent owned by Alphabet’s Verily Life Sciences division (formerly known as Google Life Sciences). Galvani will initially be funded with £540 million over the next seven years ($712 million), and plans to have treatments ready for regulatory approval by 2023.
BIOELECTRONICS USES ELECTRICAL PULSES TO STIMULATE PARTS OF THE BODY
Bioelectronics is a relatively new branch of health care, which as the name suggests, focuses on bringing together electronics and biological research. The term can cover a number of different therapies, but GSK plans to concentrate on creating electrical implants that can be used to treat diseases. This overall concept is similar to a pacemaker, which uses electrical pulses to prompt the beating of the heart. Scientists believe similar devices could be used to treat a wide range of chronic conditions — including arthritis, diabetes, and asthma — by stimulating specific parts of the body. Researchers say workable implants would be no larger than a grain of rice.
GSK has been interested in this field for years, and in 2013 announced a $1 million prizefor innovative bioelectronics research. In a press statement, GSK’s Moncef Slaoui 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.” He said bioelectronic seeks to “correct the irregular [electrical] patterns found in disease states, using miniaturized devices attached to individual nerves.”