Google developing nano technology to aid early detection of cancer and heart disease
Wed 29 Oct 2014
Google has announced its plans to create nanoparticles designed to detect early signs of disease. Injected or absorbed into a patient’s bloodstream, the technology hopes specifically to facilitate earlier diagnosis and treatment of cancer and heart disease.
Google revealed that its X lab is behind the project – the team working on other ambitious ventures such as, smart contact lenses for monitoring diabetes, and smart cutlery designed for patients with Parkinson’s disease.
“Much of the improvement in cancer survival rates over the last 30 years is due to earlier detection, like skin cancer screening and Pap smears,’ said Google at the launch of the system on Tuesday.
“Yet for many serious diseases, there still aren’t good enough diagnostics to help doctors catch them in their earliest stages, when they’re most treatable.”
“Pancreatic cancer is famously elusive, with only 3% of cases found in the first, most curable stage. And some lung cancer tumours are so aggressive that they even kill people who go for annual CT screening, growing deadly in less than 12 months,” Google added.
The nanoparticle technology, designed by the x lab engineers, combines with a wearable sensor bracelet which reads the chemical signals given off by cells as they become infected.
According to Google, magnetic qualities in the nanoparticles will allow them to be attracted to the wearable device and monitored using non-invasive methods, such as light and radio waves.
Google hopes to introduce applications such as enzyme testing for rupturing arterial plaques which cause heart attacks and strokes, as well as ways to track changes in cancer cells following chemotherapy.
The project is still in early stages of development but Google confirmed that a number of promising experiments had already taken place and it is confident that, with continued research and development, the system will be used to successfully detect life-threatening diseases in the near future.