Google collaborates with GSK to develop “bioelectronic medicine”

British pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Verily, former Google Life Sciences have teamed up to form a joint venture, starting a new field of medicine known as bioelectronic medicine. Both the companies will together invest £540 million ($715 million) over seven years to the venture, they announced today.

Known as Galvani Bioelectronics, the new company is named after Luigi Aloisio Galvani, the 18th-century Italian scientist who found that frog’s legs jerk when exposed to an electric current. He was also one of the early pioneers of bioelectricity. The company will be located at GSK’s Stevenage research center north of London, with a second research hub in San Francisco.

The initial focus of Galvani Bioelectronics will be research, development, and commercialization of bioelectronics. Its aim is to wield altered or irregular impulses, which occurred in many illnesses. In order to modify electrical nerve signals, it will develop miniaturized, implantable devices that are able to do so. The company is owned 55% by GSK and 45% by Verily.

GSK believes using those tiny devices, chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma and arthritis could potentially be treated.

Verily already has various other projects on work, including the manufacturing of a smart contact lens in collaboration with Novartis.

Initially, there will be 30 employees including scientists, clinicians, and engineers. It will happen when the deal is approved by competition regulators. Both the partners are expecting that to happen before the end of the year.