GlaxoSmithKline, Alphabet's Verily team up to form bioelectronics company

The two companies believe their combined expertise in disease biology, low-power electronics and device development can create breakthroughs in treatments for chronic diseases.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced Monday that it's teaming up with Verily, Alphabet's life sciences division, to form a company called Galvani Bioelectronics.

GSK has been invested since 2012 in the field of biolectronics, which aims to treat chronic diseases with using miniaturized, implantable devices that modify the electrical signals that pass along nerves in the body. The pharmaceutical company says it believes the field could potentially be used to treat conditions like arthritis, diabetes and asthma.

GSK, which will hold a 55 percent stake in the new firm, brings to the table its expertise in drug development and disease biology. Verily, meanwhile, brings expertise in the miniaturisation of low-power electronics, device development, data analytics and software development for clinical applications.

"This is an ambitious collaboration allowing GSK and Verily to combine forces and have a huge impact on an emerging field," Verily's CTO Brian Otis said in a statement. "Bioelectronic medicine is a new area of therapeutic exploration, and we know that success will require the confluence of deep disease biology expertise and new highly miniaturised technologies."

Galvani will be headquartered within GSK's global R&D center in the UK, with another research hub at Verily's South San Francisco offices. Both parent companies contributing existing intellectual property rights and up to £540 million over seven years. Kris Famm, GSK's vice president of bioelectronics R&D, has been appointed president of Galvani.

Just last month, GSK announced it was turning to another Silicon Valley giant, Apple, to advance its clinical research with ResearchKit.

Verily, meanwhile, has teamed up with other health care companies to advance its R&D. For instance, in 2014 Google teamed up with Novartis to co-develop smart contact lenses.

Earlier this year, Verily came under scrutiny following a report suggesting that its signature products -- such as its glucose-detecting smart contact lens -- were plagued by serious scientific shortcomings. At Alphabet's annual shareholder meeting, executive chairman Eric Schmidt insisted Verily is on its way to producing breakthroughs.

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