GSK, Google Partner To Form New Bioelectronics Pharma Company

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has signed an agreement with Verily Life Sciences LLC (formerly Google Life Sciences), an Alphabet company, to form Galvani Bioelectronics to enable the research, development, and commercialization of bioelectronic medicines. GSK will hold a 55% equity interest in the new jointly owned company and Verily will hold 45%.

Galvani Bioelectronics will be headquartered in the UK, with the parent companies contributing existing intellectual property rights and an investment of up to £540 million ($721 million) over seven years, subject to successful completion of various discovery and development milestones.

Bioelectronic medicine is a relatively new scientific field that aims to tackle a wide 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. 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.

The agreement to establish Galvani Bioelectronics represents an important next step in GSK's bioelectronics research. The new company 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 center on establishing clinical proofs of principle in inflammatory, metabolic and endocrine disorders, including Type 2 diabetes, and developing associated miniaturized, precision devices.

Galvani Bioelectronics will be headquartered within GSK's global R&D center at Stevenage in the UK, with a second research hub at Verily's facilities in South San Francisco, California. It will initially employ around 30 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. Famm has worked in both large- and small-molecule drug discovery and worked for a decade developing and delivering R&D strategy with a recurring focus on emerging technologies. He has co-designed and led GSK's exploration of bioelectronics. A seven-member board, chaired by Moncef Slaoui, GSK’s chairman of global vaccines, will also be appointed and will include Andrew Conrad, CEO of Verily. The new company will be fully consolidated in GSK’s financial statements.

The agreement is subject to customary closing conditions (including requisite antitrust approvals) and is expected to close before the end of 2016.

Source: GlaxoSmithKline

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