Alphabet, GlaxoSmithKline Create Bioelectronics Joint Venture, Invest $715 Million

Alphabet, Google's parent company, and pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said Monday they will create a company to develop bioelectronic medicines. The two companies said they will explore and create the medicines of the future.

The joint venture, named Galvani Bioelectronics, will be based in the United Kingdom. GSK will own 55% of the joint venture, with Alphabet's Verily Life Sciences division owning the remaining 45%.

Initially, the two companies will fund Galvani with £540 million -- about $715 million -- during the next seven years, with a plan to have treatments ready for regulatory approval by 2023.

Kris Famm, GSK’s VP of Bioelectronics R&D, has been appointed president of the new company. He pioneered work in large and small molecule drug discovery and worked for a decade developing and delivering R&D strategy with a recurring focus on emerging technologies.

The new company will be fully consolidated in GSK's financial statements. This agreement is subject to customary closing conditions including antitrust approvals and is expected to close before the end of 2016.



Alphabet and GSK did not mention whether, or how, they will use the data from the research to further medicine or help the brand reach individuals in need.

“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," explained Moncef Slaoui, GSK's chairman of global vaccines and the new company, in a prepared statement.

"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 miniaturized devices attached to individual nerves."

Slaoui, who was instrumental in establishing GSK’s investments in the field of bioelectronics, said that if successful the approach offers the potential for a new therapeutic modality alongside traditional medicines and vaccines.

Bioelectronic medicine is a relatively new field that aims to tackle a range of chronic diseases using miniaturized, implantable devices that can modify electrical signals that pass along nerves in the body, including irregular or altered impulses that occur in many illnesses.

Brian Otis, Verily’s CTO, called the joint venture an "ambitious collaboration allowing GSK and Verily to combine forces" that could have a huge impact on an emerging field and the world of medicine.

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