Google working on a pill to detect cancer in its most recent effort to go beyond the limits of the technology. Still in the experimental stage, the pill contains small magnetic particles that can travel through the bloodstream in search of malignant cells and report what they find to a sensor that the user carries.
About 2000 of these nanoparticles fit inside a single red blood cell to give doctors a better idea of what happens in the body of their patients.
The announced project is the latest effort coming from Google X lab, which has tried to open new technological frontiers to solve irritating problems and improve the quality of life boundaries.
The same division also works on several other eccentric projects that have little to do with the core business of Google, the search for information and advertising on the Internet: autonomous vehicles, the Google Glass, balloons connect users to the Internet from space and contact lenses that measure glucose in tears.
Some investors, frustrated with the cost of financing projects X, they have been ridiculed, but Larry Page, CEO of Google, compared to extraordinary initiatives that can drive innovation and create opportunities to make money.
At this time, Google believes that the detecting nanoparticles of cancer can be covered with antibodies that adhere to specific proteins or cells associated with different diseases. The particles remain in the bloodstream and would report what they find, said Andrew Conrad, head of biological sciences at Google X, while a sensor keeps tracks by the magnetic field and collects information about your movement throughout the body.
The goal is to get a more complete overview of the patients’ health, compared to conventional blood tests, which are not sufficiently integrated to detect the early stages of many forms of cancer.
“We want this process simple and automatic, noninvasive”, Conrad said.
The information received by the sensor can be sending or stored on the Internet until it can be interpreted by a physician, he added. That could raise questions about privacy or security of patient information. When asked if Google could use the information for commercial purposes, Conrad said, “We have no interest in that”.
Conrad said the equipment is an oncologist and other doctors as well as electrical and mechanical engineers, and an astrophysicist who advises them on how to track particles throughout the body.
Google is seeking partners to license the technology and bring products to market at the time. “Our partners would take care of it. We are the inventors and creators of technology”, Conrad said.