After the release of Smart Contact Lenses early this year that can measure glucose levels for the diabetics and Liftware, a spoon that can stabilize the hand tremors in people suffering from Parkinson’s disease, the Life Science Department of this secret child, is now trying out yet another novel invention; this time something for disease detection, like the deadly cancer.
Surprisingly, it’s just a little pill! A nano pill to be more specific. Let’s call it the ‘Google[x] Pill’ for the time being.
Cancer detection using a pill? How?
The pill is supposed to have a coating of nanoparticles stuck to antibodies that can look for disease antigens at a very early stage and stick to them. In a layman’s tongue, it’s like the FBI running after criminals. Google[x] has ‘programmed’ the particles in such a way that they spread via the human bloodstream in search of malignant or abnormal cells that point toward a disease.
Next, there’s a wearable device, which is a kind of sensor looking out for the signals of antigen-antibody reactions. The ‘signals’, of course, are provided by the nano particles which are now freely suspended in the bloodstream. They are fluorescent and can be detected using a contrast MRI test.
No more visiting the doctor for regular urine and blood tests. No more painful biopsies to confirm the disease. With the Google[x] Pill, it’s a 24X7 monitoring of your health, all round the year.
Is it first of its kind?
Using minute particles for cancer detection isn’t a new concept by the way, given that Bikanta, the Y-Combinator backed biotech company, has already carried out research in this field using fluorescent diamond particles. Still and all, because it’s only a tiny pill from Google[x], probably up to some huge miracle, there’s much to appreciate the tech king for that.
Are the nanoparticles dangerous to the body?
Reportedly, they are not. There are a lot of medicines implying the use of nanoparticles that are available for general use. And then, the contrast agent used in MRI tests has it too. Safety wise, these particles are naturally excreted from the body via urine. So, there should not be any issue regarding their entry into the bloodstream.
When will the Google Pill hit the market?
It’s a Work In Progress. Google[x] is still experimenting with it; trial-and-error phase, let’s assume. But, Andrew Conrad, the head of the Life Science’s Department, predicts that a decade from now, Google[x] Pills will be everywhere for everyone.
And let’s remember that the earlier moonshots from the company – Smart lenses and Liftware, were huge successes. This definitely gives us enough hope to remain hopeful. Cancer combat time, it is.
A post by Chayanika Deka. 29th of October, 2014.