GSK launches venture capital fund to support bioelectronic research

Action Potential Venture Capital Limited will launch with $50 million, and the first investment is slated to be SetPoint Medical

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LONDON—GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced the launch ofAction Potential Venture Capital (APVC) Limited, a $50-million strategicventure capital fund that will focus on investing in companies that are leadingthe industry with bioelectronic medicines and technologies. The launch of APVCcomes on the heels of GSK's establishment of its Bioelectronics R&D unit in2012.
"We want to help create the medicines of the future and bethe catalyst for this work," Moncef Slaoui, chairman of R&D and architectof GSK's early-stage investment strategy, said in a press release. "GSK canplay the integrating role that is needed to drive this new type of medicaltreatment all the way from the bench to the patient, and this fund is a keypart of our efforts."
Action potentials are electrical signals that travel alongthe nerves in our bodies, and signals that are altered or irregular can belinked with a variety of diseases. GSK is pursuing the idea that tiny devices,or bioelectronic medicines, could be used to read these signals and serve as aninterface between the peripheral nervous system and certain organs to generateelectronic impulses that could treat disorders such as inflammatory boweldisease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, COPD or type 2 diabetes.
"The Action Potential Venture Capital fund is the thirdstrand in our approach to galvanizing a new research community," said ImranEba, who has been named APVC's first partner. "Together, these three mechanismswill contribute to bolster an ecosystem in which exploratory research as wellas product translation is supported, and from which we expect a major wave ofnew medicines to emerge and benefit patients in future decades."
APVC's first investment is slated to be SetPoint Medical,which is developing implantable devices that can treat inflammatory diseases.The Valencia, Calif.-based company is developing a novel approach to treatinginflammatory diseases by way of implantable devices that stimulate the vagusnerve, which builds on new research that intimates that the immune system canbe influenced by the nervous system.
APVC will be based in Cambridge, Mass., and will seek tobuild a portfolio of five to seven companies over the course of the next fiveyears. The fund's three areas of focus will be new startup companies that arepursuing bioelectronic medicines, companies with technologies that target theperipheral nervous system via first-generation devices and companies that aredeveloping technology platforms that will underpin such treatment modalities.
GSK will continue to explore possibilities in the realm ofbioelectronics research in other ways as well. In addition to working withAPVC, GSK's Bioelectronics R&D unit is offering up to 20 new exploratoryresearch grants and creating a network of investigators. The research unit willalso seek to help develop a larger research community in this field, and ismaking contact with other major funding and research organizations interestedin this approach. The bioelectronics community will be invited to specializedsummits, including a soon-to-be-announced first global summit, at whichBioelectronics R&D is committed to establishing a million-dollar innovationprize.
SOURCE: GSK press release

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