Galvani Bioelectronics, a joint venture between Verily and GSK, recently announced the first successful implantation of a neurostimulator using stimulation of the spleen nerve as an experimental therapy for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

GSK and Verily joint venture Galvani Bioelectronics has laparoscopically implanted a neurostimulator in a patient with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as part of the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Health Board clinical trial in Scotland. This first patient implantation marks an important milestone for Galvani's RA neuromodulation therapy. Galvani's Laparoscopic Nerve Stimulator is an experimental therapy that uses spleen nerve stimulation for RA patients to reprogram the spleen's immune cells into an anti-inflammatory state, thereby relieving pain and swelling in patients.

The neurostimulator is designed as a minimally invasive outpatient treatment. After laparoscopic implantation, the treating physician can program the neurostimulator using a wirelessly connected tablet. In addition, the patients control and monitor their own therapy via smartphone. You can also charge your implant wirelessly.

The treatment works by stimulating the splenic nerve to send nerve signals to the spleen. As a result, the immune cells in the spleen are more likely to adapt to inflammation-resolving than to inflammation-friendly conditions. The anti-inflammatory cells then migrate to sites of injury, such as the joints in RA, and may be able to reduce and possibly eliminate pain and inflammation in that area.

In concrete terms, this treatment method aims to restore the target organ, in the case of RA the spleen, to a healthier functional state. The hope is that this may minimize or even alleviate the symptoms of a variety of autoimmune diseases.

Galvani Bioelectronics has also initiated a parallel clinical trial in the US with sites in New York, Oregon, Dallas and Austin. The studies, conducted in the US, will evaluate the efficacy of the Galvani platform in the same RA patient population, as well as its safety.

The company hopes that spleen nerve stimulation treatment will not only prove a viable option for RA patients who are unresponsive to current treatments, but also believes that immunomodulation will offer potential treatment avenues for other autoimmune diseases.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints and is incurable. It is estimated that more than 1.3 million Americans are affected. The burden of disease is forcing companies to take different approaches, including a precision medicine approach.