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What is bioelectrics and how will it effect the pharmaceutical industry?

1 August 2016

Pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has unveiled plans to create a new company for the research, development and commercialisation of “bioelectric” medicines.

Partnering with Alphabet Inc.’s life science unit, Verily Life Sciences, the companies will invest £540 million over the next seven years into creating Galvani Bioelectrics.

“Bioelectronic medicine is a relatively new scientific field that aims to tackle a wide range of chronic diseases using miniaturised, implantable devices that can modify electrical signals that pass along nerves in the body, including irregular or altered impulses that occur in many illnesses,” GSK, the U.K.’s largest drugmaker, said in a statement.

“GSK has been active in this field since 2012 and believes certain chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and asthma could potentially be treated using these devices.”  

Initial work will centre on establishing clinical proofs of principle in inflammatory, metabolic and endocrine disorders. They will then develop associated miniaturised devices that will interpret the electronic signals firing between the nervous system and the body’s organs and correct the irregular patterns found in many chronic diseases.

Recent trials of bioelectronic implants by Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and SetPoint Medical have already showed promise in reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease which affects 1.3 million people in the United States alone.

“We know that success will require the confluence of deep disease biology expertise and new highly miniaturised technologies,” Brian Otis, Verily’s chief technology officer, said in the statement.

“This partnership provides an opportunity to further Verily’s mission by deploying our focused expertise in low power, miniaturised therapeutics and our data analytics engine to potentially address many disease areas with greater precision with the goal of improving outcomes.”


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