Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany (Merck) has partnered with Innervia Bioelectronics to jointly develop graphene-based bioelectronic vagus nerve treatments for severe chronic diseases.

The partnership will leverage the expertise of both companies to develop therapies for diseases with unmet medical requirements, which are within the treatment areas addressed by Merck.

With bioelectronics research sites, Merck can use its data science, clinical, regulatory and quality capabilities to develop new devices for patients.

A subsidiary of Spanish company Inbrain Neuroelectronics, Innervia will leverage its technical capabilities in graphene interfaces, device development and signal processing for clinical uses.

In the initial stage, the collaboration will focus on inflammatory, metabolic and endocrine disorders, utilising the abilities of graphene for miniaturisation, precision and increased modulation efficiency in the vagus nerve.

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By GlobalData

Merck chief science and technology officer Laura Matz said: “We aim to accelerate developments in the emerging field of bioelectronics by boosting the novel modality of selective neurostimulation.

“Today’s agreement with Innervia Bioelectronics gives Merck access to a unique technology that increases energy efficiency in neurostimulators and could therefore become a true enabler for digital personalised treatment of patients suffering from severe and chronic diseases such as inflammatory disorders.”

Various severe chronic diseases are characterised by altered and dysregulated nerve signals. Bioelectronic treatments intend to tackle multiple chronic diseases with small, implantable devices that can regulate electrical signals passing through nerves in the body.

In addition, neurostimulation devices are anticipated to be smart due to many other features, including continuous readouts as well as data analysis and transmission, which will boost the device’s energy use.

The partnership with Inbrain is the second bioelectronics alliance for Merck, which collaborated with B Braun and its start-up neuroloop last month to analyse the potential of neurostimulators for targeted treatment of conditions with unmet medical needs.