The life sciences unit of Google’s parent company Alphabet and pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, together are creating a new company to focus their resources on bioelectronic research. Already, Google’s parent company Alphabet has signalled an intention to move beyond search engines and focusing more on bio-science.
Relatively a new field of medicine, bioelectronics focuses on fighting diseases by targeting electronic signals in the body. It develops medicine that uses electrical impulses instead of traditional chemicals or proteins.
Verily Life Services, which was Google’s life sciences unit till last fall and Britain’s largest drugmaker will raise 540 million pounds over a period of seven years to Galvani Bioelectronics.
The new company will base itself out of GSK’s Stevenage research centre in North London. A second research hub will also come up in San Francisco.
“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,” Moncef Slaoui, GSK’s chairman of global vaccines, explained in a statement.
Galvani will be owned 55 per cent by GSK and 45 per cent by Verily, and will research on developing miniaturized devices that can be implanted in the body. These implants will modify electrical nerve signals, with the aim of modulating irregular or altered impulses that are the cause behind many illnesses.
Chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma and diabetes can be cured using these devices.
Using electronic devices for medical treatment is not new, however. Large-scale electrical devices like heart pacemakers have been used for long in treating chronic heart diseases.
More recently, Parkinsons disease has been treated using deep brain stimulation. Severe depressions and other neurological movement disorders are also treated using electronic impulses.
Shock-therapy has been a traditional treatment method for psychological patients, where the patient is administered electrical shocks to cure him of his ‘madness’.
The joint venture will be led by a GSK executive and will initially employ around 30 engineers, clinicians and scientists.
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