GlaxoSmithKline wires up $50M VC fund for bioelectronic treatment effort

GlaxoSmithKline has launched a $50 million venture fund that will be dedicated to support a new R&D initiative aimed at developing the first generation of bioelectronic therapies.

The pharma giant ($GSK) intends to use the money to back a mix of 5 to 7 drug and device startups in the bioelectronics field over the next 5 years. And it's the latest example of GSK's commitment to come up with a blend of specially focused venture funds aimed at seeding new companies that dovetail with their R&D specialties.

This latest effort supports GSK's plan to devote time and money to creating complex new neural stimulation devices that could tinker with disease at the cellular level, something of a cross between a device and molecular medicines that could help fine-tune complex nerve bundles that control organs and body functions. And it's making its first bet on SetPoint Medical, a California device company that is working on an implant that can stimulate the vagus nerve in the brain and trigger the body's natural inflammatory reflex, a fresh approach to treating chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease, as FierceMedicalDevices editor Damian Garde covers in depth this morning.

GSK R&D chief Moncef Slaoui

Launched in 2012, GlaxoSmithKline also recently set up a $1 million research prize for "electroceuticals" as it offered to bankroll dozens of new research projects in the field as it sets out to create a virtual research group. None of these initiatives require big money for GlaxoSmithKline. But R&D chief Moncef Slaoui believes that the multinational company can use these projects to prime the pump in a fledgling field that can eventually turn out a wave of important new products.

"We want to help create the medicines of the future and be the catalyst for this work," said Slaoui. "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."

- here's the press release
- read the story from FierceMedicalDevices

Special Reports: GlaxoSmithKline - Biopharma's Top R&D Spenders - 2012 | Moncef Slaoui - The 25 most influential people in biopharma today - 2012