New Company Plans Very Small Electronic Medical Treatments

07 August, 2016

A new company has been created to research and develop medical treatments using bioelectronics.

Bioelectronic treatments use a small device placed inside the body to change electronic nerve signals to treat, and possibly cure, diseases.

The British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, or GSK, and Google's Verily Life Sciences formed the new company, Galvani Bioelectronics. They expect to invest about $715 million into the business during the next seven years. GSK will own 55 percent of the company and Verily, 45 percent.

Galvani Bioelectronics will be headquartered within GSK's global R&D center at Stevenage in the UK.
Galvani Bioelectronics will be headquartered within GSK's global R&D center at Stevenage in the UK.

GSK has spent the last three years creating a special map of nerves. It shows how the nerves affect organs and the disease process. Verily is expert at small device design and engineering. Moncef Slaoui is Chairman of Vaccines at GSK. He says Galvani Bioelectronics will build on the strengths and technologies of the two companies.

GSK says these small bioelectronics devices could potentially treat diseases including diabetes, arthritis and asthma. The device could be used to guide insulin out of cells to treat diabetes, for example, or to correct muscle differences in lung disease.

Kris Famm is president of Galvani. He told Reuters news agency that the company had good results using the device in animal testing. He said the first generation of devices would be about the size of a small pill. But, he said, one day it will be smaller than a grain of rice. Famm said Galvani expects the first devices to be ready for government inspection by 2023.

A major difficulty for researchers is to make the device work on extremely low power so it can be used deep inside the body.

At first, Galvani will employ about 30 scientists, engineers and other lab workers. It will be based at GSK's research center north of the British capital, London. A second research lab will set up in San Francisco, California.

I'm Dorothy Gundy.

Reuters reported on this story for VOANews. Dorothy Gundy adapted this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

bioelectronics – n. a branch of science that deals with electronic control of how the body works, especially in medicine to make up for defects of the nervous system

pharmaceutical adj. of or relating to the production and sale of drugs and medicine

potentiallyadv. capable of becoming real

insulin ­– n. a substance that your body makes and uses to turn sugar into energy

pilln. a small, rounded object that you swallow and that contains medicine

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