Saturday, February 7, 2015

Google Working On Cancer-Detection Wristband

Innovative Medicine

Andrew Conrad (left), molecular biologist, at Google X: “So imagine that you swallow a pill [You would take a pill maybe twice a month] and that pill has small things called nanoparticles in it, decorated on their surface with markers that attach to cancer cells, We have them circulate through your whole body, and we collect them in the vasculature of the arm with a magnet, and you ask them what they saw.”
Photo Credit: Google
Source: BBC

In an article in, Nancy Owano writes about Google’s plans to refashion medicine to make it both more personal and proactive; one of its most noteworthy research projects is designing a wristband that would be an early detector of cancer. The project leader is Andrew Conrad, a molecular biologist, who joined Google X, the company’s research unit, as head of Life Sciences in 2013.

Owano  writes:
In brief, Google is designing a system where tiny magnetic particles patrol the human body for signs of cancer and other diseases. UPI's Brooks Hays said that "the pill would release nanoparticles into a patient's bloodstream; the magnetized particles would tour the body seeking out cancer cells to bind to. A wearable monitor would attract and count the particles, pulling information as to what the particles had detected." Cancer cells, for example, would light up. How does light pass through skin? To understand that, Google started to make synthetic skin.

For their arm model, they had to use materials that behave like skin with biocomponents of real arms. Also, Google is monitoring 175 healthy volunteers, collecting physiological data frequently,. The goal is to understand what defines a "healthy" person, to know what 'normal' is. They need to understand the baseline. In the video, Conrad, had a memorable reply when his interviewer asked if some people would feel weird having nanoparticles floating through their body as trackers. "It's way weirder," said Conrad, "to have cancer cells floating through your body that are constantly trying to kill you."
How true. When you think about it for a minute or so, you tend to agree with Conrad; this is the kind of innovative and advanced thinking that leads to the betterment of human life. Most humans want to live not only a long life, but also a healthy one free of disease and debilitating illness. The trick, so to speak, is to catch disease early, when it can do the least damage. After all, early detection (and diagnosis), along with prevention and precise treatment, form the three components of modern medicine.

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