The Stack Archive

Google and GSK partner in bioelectronic medicine venture

Mon 1 Aug 2016

Google’s Verily Life Sciences is teaming up with British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to advance research into chronic conditions and bioelectronic treatments.

The joint venture, to be called Galvani Bioelectronics, will look at developing electronic implants and medicines to treat sufferers of asthma, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses. GSK is to own 55% of the business, while Verily, formerly Google Life Sciences, will hold the remaining 45%.

The new company will primarily be based at the GSK global development HQ in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, and will have another research facility at Verily’s labs in San Francisco. The two firms will combine their existing intellectual property rights and are expected to invest up to £540 million by 2023.

GSK has been exploring bioelectronics for the last four years, looking at treatments which attach implants to individual nerves in order to correct faulty signals between the nervous system and the body’s organs.

The combined work will see GSK drugs research and its expertise in disease biology, with Verily’s know-how in clinical data analytics and software. The new startup will initially employ 30 researchers, engineers and medics.

GSK chairman of global vaccines, Moncef Slaoui, will head up the company’s board, working alongside Verily chief exec, Andrew Conrad, and GSK head of bioelectronics, Kris Famm.

Slaoui commented: ‘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.’

Last month, the British drug company established a partnership with Apple’s ResearchKit to support its new arthritis study, Patient Rheumatoid Arthritis Data from the Real World (PARADE). The project aims to gather data from over 300 arthritis patients over the course of three months through a tailored app. The mobile platform helps users record and track information on joint pain, fatigue and mood, which they can then choose to share with their physicians.

‘By making research as easy and accessible as possible for patients, we have the potential to disrupt the model for how we conduct research in the future and ultimately improve patient health,’ said GSK VP Rob DiCicco.

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