From “animal electricity” to bioelectronics

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Galvani Bioelectronics is the name of a new company that is working with Google holding Alphabet and pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline to treat chronic diseases with the help of tiny implants on neural pathways.

People have been asking what Google actually does for a long time. But now they are more likely to ask what doesn’t Google do. Besides its core business in Internet advertising, the search engine giant with the mixture of megalomania and a love of experimentation that is typical of Silicon Valley is involved in a growing number of projects—some of them quite exotic. And not all of them serve to sell more advertising. Health and eternal life are also on the list. Of course, people who live forever can also be bombarded with advertising forever.

Bioelectronics against chronic diseases

Yesterday it was announced that Verily Life Sciences, a spin-off of the Google parent company Alphabet, and British pharma enterprise GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) want to promote bioelectronic medicine together. Which certainly makes sense. After all, modern medical technology is a very interdisciplinary undertaking. In most cases, companies with a high level of biological and medical expertise combine it with expertise in electronics to make their solutions extremely small and to process data more effectively.

The new company is called Galvani Bioelectronics. It is named after the Italian physician and naturalist Galvani, who discovered that frogs’ legs react to electricity at the end of the 18th century. And that “animals themselves have electricity”.

Old discovery—new science

More than 200 years later, bioelectronics is still a relatively new science and one in which GSK has been involved for approximately four years. Which is somewhat of a surprise, when you consider how many processes in the body are controlled by electric signals. Chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes and asthma often the troublemakers here. But in the future, tiny programmable implants on neural pathways will supposedly counter them by registering and correcting the disturbed signals.

For the time being, Galvani Bioelectronics wants to devote itself entirely to the common disease of type 2 diabetes. It may be the application with the greatest potential. After all, some 285 million adults—or 6.6 percent of the world’s population—are currently affected by diabetes mellitus (95 percent of them are type 2).

Galvani Bioelectronics has 640 million euros available for its first seven years. GSK holds a 55-percent share, and Alphabet subsidiary Verily holds a 45-percent share of the new company, which will be based in Great Britain.


electronicalogo rand rot rechts dünnFind out more about the latest developments in medical applications at electronica ForumHighlight Day: Wearables & Healthcare” in Halls A3.


In the future, tiny implants on the neural pathways are supposed to correct disturbances. (Photo: GSK).