Glaxo and Alphabet in venture to develop bioelectronic drugs

UK pharma group and Google parent to invest up to €640 million over seven years

GlaxoSmithKline, the UK's biggest drugmaker, is forming a joint venture with Google parent Alphabet's life-sciences business to research and develop bioelectronic medicines, which neural pathways to target disease.

Glaxo will hold a 55 per cent stake in the venture, called Galvani Bioelectronics, and Alphabet's Verily Life Sciences LLC will hold 45 per cent, according to a statement on Monday. The companies will make an investment of up to £540 million (€640 million) over seven years, subject to completion of milestones.

Glaxo is seeking new sources of revenue growth as its blockbuster respiratory treatment Advair faces the threat of generics in the US bioelectronic medicine is a new field that aims to tackle chronic diseases using miniature, implanted devices that modify electrical signals that pass along nerves in the body. Glaxo’s researchers believe conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and asthma could be treated using these devices.

Other Bets division

Verily aims to use technology to develop software and hardware for the healthcare field. It is one of Alphabet's most important new ventures, residing in the tech giant's Other Bets division alongside smart-home device maker Nest and fast internet service provider Fiber.


In the second quarter, those Other Bets generated $185 million in revenue and Alphabet chief financial officer Ruth Porat said that mostly came from Nest, Fiber and Verily, in that order.

Verily has worked extensively with traditional pharmaceutical companies, such as developing smart contact lenses that can measure glucose with Novartis and helping Biogen study the progression of multiple sclerosis with sensors and data-analysis tools. The collaboration with Glaxo is not the first joint venture for Verily: in December, it funded a robotic surgery company with Johnson & Johnson. – (Bloomberg)