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Google Working on Disease-Searching Pill

TMCnet Feature

October 29, 2014

Google Working on Disease-Searching Pill

By David Delony
Contributing Writer

Millions of people search Google each day for health information, so Google is working on a pill that can search users for various illnesses, the Associated Press (News - Alert) reports.

The pill contains magnetic particles that travel through a patient’s bloodstream and detect cancerous cells, reporting to a device the patient wears.

The project is another of the “moonshot” projects created by Google’s (News - Alert) X division, which includes self-driving cars.

While the nanoparticles could detect cancer, they would also be able to be modified to detect other kinds of diseases.

“We want to make it simple and automatic and not invasive,” Andrew Conrad, head of life sciences at Google X, told AP. He announced the project at a tech conference sponsored by the Wall Street Journal.

The project, like another Google X project, a contact lens that measures glucose in a patient’s tears, monitors health proactively and continuously rather than just a one-time measure like a blood test.

Other team members working on the project include a cancer specialist and several other doctors as well as some electrical and mechanical engineers. Google is even working with an astrophysicist for advice on tracking the particles as they move through the body.

The device can also upload health information to the Internet for review by doctors. Conrad said that Google didn’t want to commercialize this data. There are still some privacy concerns given that this data is on the Internet at all.

Google is looking for commercial partners to bring this technology to the market. Given the company’s standing in the tech world, it shouldn’t be too difficult for Google to do so.

Google X’s projects could be seen as a throwback to the days when companies like AT&T sponsored basic research through divisions like Bell Labs (News - Alert) that changed the world even though they weren’t always related to the company’s main line of business. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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