When we think of Google, we think of the company that powers the widely used search engine, and we think of computer programming, engineering, and electrical design. However, recently Google has expanded and moved towards research in medical technology. Just a few months ago, the tech giant partnered with Novartis to license a glucose measuring smart contact lens. The company had also recently bought portions of Calico, an anti-aging research company, and 23andme, a company that provides personal genetic tests. Now, Google aims to develop a wearable diagnostic device to detect cancer and heart attacks through the use of nanoparticles.
The main idea is that a patient will swallow a pill with magnetic nanoparticles to detect various conditions. Dr. Andrew Conrad of the Google X research division is spearheading this project. These nanoparticles could potentially attach themselves to cancer cells, change color when potassium passes through them to measure the amount of it in the blood, or attach to fat build ups that could lead to heart attacks. Nanoparticles that aren’t attached to anything would behave differently than those that are, and software can ultimately be used to diagnose the patient based off the movements of the particles in a magnetic field. The results would then be readily displayed on a wearable device.
Problems have already been raised including misdiagnosis or false positives which could lead to unnecessary treatment or higher levels of anxiety. Nonetheless, Google has said that if this concept is feasible, this technology could reach the public in about five years.