Google X goes teeny-tiny to diagnose disease at its earliest stages

Google X announced its latest biotechnology initiative–and it is very very small.Google wants to help you proactively track your health, and it has a very tiny solution: nanoparticles.Google X’s Life Sciences team is exploring the potential of nanodiagnostics, which uses teeny tiny particles that can bind themselves to disease cells for easy tracking. The goal is to actively track and diagnose diseases in their earliest stages. It’s part of the unit’s push to move medical care from reactive to proactive.The company announced its new initiative Tuesday at the WSJDLive conference in Laguna Beach, Calif.Nanoparticles, which are smaller than one-thousandth the width of a red blood cell, are already a prime area of biotechnology research. Companies like Nanosphere NSPH -2.80% , AuraSense, T2 Biosystems TTOO 4.27% and Bind Therapeutics BIND 1.04% are exploring uses for the microscopic particles from treatment to diagnosis of ailments like cancer and blood infections. AuraSense counts Bill Gates and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt as investors.Google GOOG 1.50% is building on existing nanoparticle research in order to find a way to leverage the technology for continuous testing and monitoring. The idea is that anyone could swallow a pill with nanoparticles that would then bind to certain types of cells that mark diseases, and a wearable device would attract those particles like a magnet, allowing doctors to count the number of cells.This could potentially help doctors catch cancers or other dangerous ailments sooner and lead to early-intervention treatments and, hopefully, higher survival rates. Google X says the scope of the technology’s application could be huge.“Maybe there could be a test for the enzymes given off by arterial plaques that are about to rupture and cause a heart attack or stroke,” the company said. “Perhaps someone could develop a diagnostic for post-surgery or post-chemo cancer patients – that’s a lot of anxious people right there.”

via Google X goes teeny-tiny to diagnose disease at its earliest stages.

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