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GSK invests $50m in 'bioelectronic' medicines

Will support research investigating use of electrical signals in nerves to help treat diseases

nervous system

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has launched a $50m fund to research medicines and technologies that use electrical signals in a person's nerves to help treat diseases.

The fund will be managed by Action Potential Venture Capital and the first recipient of investment is SetPoint Medical, a US company developing small implantable devices to treat inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

SetPoint's work focuses on stimulating the body's vagus nerve, which conveys sensory information about the state of the body's organs to the central nervous system, which in turn regulates the immune system.

GSK said that SetPoint's investigational device had “important hallmarks of future bioelectronic medicines”.

These medicines are designed to read patterns of electronic signals in nerves, which can be irregular or altered in patients with certain disease.

According to GSK, these drugs and devices have the potential to relay information between the nervous system and specific organs to regulate these electronic impulses and help treat a range of conditions, including asthma, COPD, type 2 diabetes and inflammatory conditions.

“We want to help create the medicines of the future and be the catalyst for this work,” said Moncef Slaoui, chairman of R&D at GSK.

“GSK can play the integrating role that is needed to drive this new type of medical treatment all the way from the bench to the patient and this fund is a key part of our efforts.”

This fund adds to GSK's existing efforts in the field, including the launch last year of GSK's Bioelectronics R&D unit.

Consisting of leading researchers in bioelectronic healthcare, the unit is set to offer 20 new exploratory research grants and create a network of investigators working in the area.

GSK is also carrying out its own research with the unit, and is exploring patterns of impulses along the nerves associated with several disease as well as new technologies that can interact with the nerve fibres.

On top of this, GSK also intends to establish a broad research community and create a global summit for bioelectronics research, where a $1m innovation will be awarded to a researcher.

Article by
Thomas Meek

8th August 2013

From: Research

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