GSK (LSE/NYSE: GSK) and Verily Life Sciences LLC (formerly Google Life Sciences), an Alphabet company, have formed Galvani Bioelectronics*, a new company that enables the research, development and commercialisation of bioelectronic medicines.
GSK will hold a 55% equity interest in the new jointly owned company and Verily will hold 45%, contributing existing intellectual property rights and an investment of up to £540m over seven years, subject to successful completion of various discovery and development milestones.
Headquartered within GSK’s global R&D centre at Stevenage in the UK, with a second research hub at Verily’s facilities in South San Francisco, Galvani Bioelectronics will bring together GSK’s drug discovery and development expertise and understanding of disease biology with Verily’s technical expertise in the miniaturization of low power electronics, device development, data analytics and software development for clinical applications.
Initial work will centre on establishing clinical proofs of principle in inflammatory, metabolic and endocrine disorders, including type 2 diabetes, where substantial evidence already exists in animal models; and developing associated miniaturised, precision devices.
The company will initially employ around 30 expert scientists, engineers and clinicians, and will fund and integrate a broad range of collaborations with both parent companies, academia and other R&D companies.
Kris Famm, GSK’s Vice President of Bioelectronics R&D, has been appointed President of the new company. Moncef Slaoui, GSK’s Chairman of Global Vaccines, who was instrumental in establishing GSK’s investments in the field of bioelectronics, will chair the seven-member board of the new company. It will also include Andrew Conrad, CEO of Verily.
* Galvani Bioelectronics is named after Luigi Aloisio Galvani, an 18th century Italian scientist, physician and philosopher, who was one of the first to explore the field of bioelectricity. In 1780, he made the pivotal discovery that the muscles of a frog’s legs twitched when he touched the sciatic nerve with two pieces of metal, leading him to propose the theory of bioelectricity.
Galvani’s discovery, while disputed by many of his peers, paved the way for the modern study of electrophysiology and neuroscience – two fields that are key to the development of bioelectronic medicines.