GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Google parent Alphabet Inc. have teamed up to develop what they call bioelectronic medicines, or treatments that use miniature implanted electronic devices to modify how electrical impulses are transmitted around the nervous system.
The U.K. pharmaceutical company said it had signed an agreement with Verily Life Sciences LLC, formerly Google Life Sciences, to create Galvani Bioelectronics. It said the pair would spend as much as £540 million ($714 million) over seven years on the venture, provided they succeeded in hitting various milestones along the way. Glaxo will control 55% of the new company and Verily will hold the rest.
Many biological processes are controlled by electrical signals transmitted from the nervous system to the body’s organs. Glaxo said early-stage research in its laboratories suggested that distortions of those signaling pathways were involved in several long-term diseases including diabetes, asthma and arthritis.
Galvani Bioelectronics would bring together Glaxo’s knowledge of drug discovery and development with Verily’s expertise in miniaturizing low-power electronics, data analytics and building software for clinical applications, Glaxo said.
Initial work would focus on developing miniature electronic devices to test out that concept in humans for the first time, Glaxo said.
The treatment would likely work by attaching miniature electronic devices to individual nerves, said Moncef Slaoui, Glaxo’s head of vaccines and chairman of Galvani Bioelectronics…