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Pharmaceutical industry

GSK partners with Google on bioelectronic medicine

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the parent company of technology giant Google have formed a new business devoted to the development of bioelectronic medicine.

The new company Glavani Bioelectronics brings together GSK and Verily Life Sciences – an Alphabet company that was previously called Google Life Sciences.

The global headquarters of the new company, which employs a team of 30 scientists, engineers and clinicians, will be at GSK’s research and development centre in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

Glavani Bioelectronics will focus on the potential of bioelectronics — the use of miniaturised implantable devices that can modify the body’s electrical signals to treat disease.

GSK, which has been involved in bioelectronics since 2012, believes this kind of medicine has potential in the treatment of chronic conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes and asthma.

Moncef Slaoui, currently chair of global vaccines at GSK, will chair the new company’s board. He says: “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. If successful, this approach offers the potential for a new therapeutic modality alongside traditional medicines and vaccines.”

He is confident that the new company will be able to “rapidly accelerate the pace of progress in this exciting field, to develop innovative medicines that truly speak the electrical language of the body”.

Brian Otis, chief technology officer at Verily Life Sciences, describes the new company as an “ambitious collaboration” that will have a “huge impact” on an emerging field. 

News of the collaboration comes five days after GSK announced £275m of new investments at three of its manufacturing sites in the UK to support delivery of its latest respiratory and large molecule biological medicines.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2016.20201525

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