Google working on a nanoparticle-covered pill that can detect cancer

Google X’s job is to take on big problems, to try to find clever solutions to big problems

is developing tiny magnetic particles that could help detect cancer and other health problems by coursing through a patient’s bloodstream.

Google working on a nanoparticle-covered pill that can detect cancer

Andrew Conrad, head of the Google X research lab’s Life Sciences Team, told the WSJ.D Live conference Tuesday that the particles can be directed toward different parts of the body by applying wearable magnetic devices to the skin.

The wearable would be able to count the particles and possibly compile information about what potential medical conditions they detected.

Andrew Conrad, Head of Google[X] Life Sciences
Andrew Conrad, Head of Google[X] Life Sciences
“Because the core of these particles is magnetic, you can call them somewhere,” Conrad said, indicating that you could use a wearable device to gather them in the superficial veins on the inside of your wrist. “These little particles go out and mingle with the people, we call them back to one place, and we ask them: ‘Hey, what did you see? Did you find cancer? Did you see something that looks like a fragile plaque for a heart attack? Did you see too much sodium?”

“Nanoparticles are the nexus between biology and engineering,” Conrad said in an interview at the conference, which was excerpted in a video. “We can make these nanoparticles behave in ways that we want them to do.”
The so-called Nanoparticle Platform comes in the form of pills that are covered with “antibodies or molecules that detect other molecules,” he added.

Known as the “Nanoparticle Platform,” the project is part of a wider effort inside Google to develop new technologies capable of improving healthcare. “Google X’s job is to take on big problems, to try to find clever solutions to big problems, and one of the problems we decided to tackle was healthcare,” Conrad said. “The way in which we envision doing this is inverting the paradigm in medicine—which is currently reactive and episodic—to a new paradigm that is proactive and cumulative.” As Conrad put it, this involves building “gizmos” that can monitor your health in new ways.
“Every test you ever go to the doctor for will be done through this system,” said Dr Andrew Conrad, a molecular biologist and head of the Life Sciences team at Google X. “That’s our dream.
The wearable device that reads these particles, Conrad said, could be configured to send information, across the internet, back to a doctor. The idea, he explained, is that you or your doctor could monitor your health in a more consistent way. “So, you get a more continuous monitoring, rather than episodic monitoring,” he said.The project, which also came out of the Google X lab, measures glucose levels in tears using a miniature wireless chip and a glucose sensor. Google said it was looking for partners in the effort to bring the technology to market.

Google X has been focused on developing game-changing technologies such as Google Glass, driverless cars and Project Loon, an effort to bring Internet access to remote places via a network of balloons.
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