Imagine a future where we can treat diabetes or autoimmune disorders with an electrical zap delivered by a device no larger than a speck of dust.
The device, implanted through microsurgery, sits silently on a single nerve bundle, monitoring electrical signals sent out by the brain to itself and various organs in the body.
When it detects a problem — a rogue misfire, or a shift in activity patterns — the device powers up, sending out counter-pulses to correct the signal. In this way, it keeps your body running smoothly and disease at bay. No pills. No injections. No pain.
According to Alphabet and pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), that future is just seven years away.
This week, Verily, Alphabet’s life science unit (formerly Google Life Sciences), teamed up with Britain’s biggest drug maker to announce their new $715 million venture Galvani Bioelectronics. With research centers based in GSK’s biotech hub in the UK and around the Bay Area, the company hopes to develop miniaturized, implantable electronic systems — dubbed “electroceuticals” — to correct irregular nerve pulses that contribute to a multitude of chronic diseases.
Hopes are high. According to Reuters, Kristoffer Famm, head of bioelectronics research at GSK and president of Galvani, says that their first products might be submitted for marketing approval as early as 2023.