Google X has launched a new initiative called “Baseline Study” which aims to help clinicians and doctors better understand the human body. The project will map human genetic and molecular data from 175 volunteers, where Google’s algorithms will then process this data to identify “biomarkers” that could help with detecting either advantages or deficiencies that a particular patient may have.
As the Wall Street Journal reports,
“The study may, for instance, reveal a biomarker that helps some people break down fatty foods efficiently, helping them live a long time without high cholesterol and heart disease. Others may lack this trait and succumb to early heart attacks. Once Baseline has identified the biomarker, researchers could check if other people lack it and help them modify their behaviour or develop a new treatment to help them break down fatty foods better.”
Andrew Conrad, a molecular biologist who pioneered cheap, high-volume tests for HIV in blood-plasma donations, runs the project. Dr. Conrad joined Google X in March 2013 and has a team of 70-100 experts working with him.
Google has been making significant movements towards the healthcare sector in recent years, which researchers at Freedonia Group expect to be valued at $10.8 trillion a year world-wide by 2017.
Basline will be Google’s third health-related initiative. In September, the tech giant announced Calico, a company that will focus on “health, wellbeing and longevity,” and how technology can positively affect aging and associated diseases. The second initiative was Google Contact Lens, a contact with sensors that can measure the glucose levels of people with diabetes.
Although specific names were not mentioned, a clinical testing firm is already collecting data on patients’ urine, blood, saliva, and tears. Duke and Stanford University will also run trials in the future, the WSJ reported.
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(Image Credit: Stuart Caie)
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