Biogen Idec, the biotechnology company specializing in treatments of of neurodegenerative, hematologic and autoimmune diseases has formed an alliance with Google’s stealthy advanced research arm Google X in order to study the ‘environmental and biological contributors’ to the spread of multiple sclerosis.
The collaboration intends to tap latest tech utilizing sensors, software and data analysis tools, to glean data from affected people essentially to explain the variable nature of multiple sclerosis progression in different patients, explained Rick Rudick, Biogen’s VP of development sciences, reports Bloomberg.
“We used to see patients at the beginning stages of MS — two women would come in with optic neuritis, they couldn’t see out of one eye, they’d have some spots on the MRI scan, and they looked very similar,” recounts Rudick, once a director of the Cleveland Clinic’s MS program. “But as we followed them along, 10 years later, one would be a championship tennis player still and one would be in a nursing home. I never understood that.”
This isn’t the first such instance where the Massachusetts, US based company has been experimenting with latest devices in this field. It gave out 250 Fitbit bands to MS patients in the U.S. last year to track their level of activity and sleep patterns. Data on movement of patients, their speeds and other such nuances could help understand the progression of the disease.
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“Our central thesis is to change health care from being reactive to proactive,” Andrew Conrad, the head of the Life Sciences division at Google X told Bloomberg in a telephone interview. “We’re trying to understand disease at its onset and see if we can intervene early.”
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