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Google Developing a Pill To Detect Cancer 58

An anonymous reader writes: The Google X research lab has unveiled a new project: developing a pill capable of detecting cancer, imminent heart attacks, and other diseases. According to the article, "the company is fashioning nanoparticles—particles about one billionth of a meter in width—that combine a magnetic material with antibodies or proteins that can attach to and detect other molecules inside the body." When a person ingests the pill, these particles interact with the particular markers for a given disease. Since they're magnetic, they can then be guided back to a particular spot where they can be scanned to determine if any interactions took place. Google X's head of life sciences, Andrew Conrad, said, "What we are trying to do is change medicine from reactive and transactional to proactive and preventative. Nanoparticles... give you the ability to explore the body at a molecular and cellular level."
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Google Developing a Pill To Detect Cancer

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  • Hype or real? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chipmunk100 ( 3619141 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2014 @06:02PM (#48255927)
    How do these particles avoid gut enzymes, once in the blood how do these particles avoid phagocytosis by macrophages, how can you expect that magnetic dragging of a number of these particles will not be deleterious, for example some of these got into cellular organelles being forcefully pulled out through their membranes etc. Either it is crazy or there is something ingenious about it.
    • by pepty ( 1976012 )

      In other words:

      "WHY THE FUCK AREN'T YOU JUST TAKING A SAMPLE??"

      And I think I know the answer: avoiding all of the intellectual property surrounding running the exact same tests after taking a sample out of a human being. The number of patents on diagnostics based on these types of binding events is astounding. But they are almost all in vitro, not in vivo.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2014 @06:03PM (#48255935) Homepage

    The pill transmits to a wrist sensor. Of course, that will transmit to an Android phone, which will upload the data to Google's servers. You'll need a Google account, of course. All that data will be available to you (and, of course, Google's "affiliates") via a newly reactivated Google Health.

    • How would you propose to do this, via telepathy?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The pill transmits to a wrist sensor. Of course, that will transmit to an Android phone, which will upload the data to Google's servers. You'll need a Google account, of course. All that data will be available to you (and, of course, Google's "affiliates") via a newly reactivated Google Health.

      I'm sorry, but exactly how in the hell were you expecting a product from Google to work?

      Googling the cloud is an exercise in futility, since the entities are one in the same. They ARE the cloud.

    • Where are my mod points? This need a Funny tag
    • The tin-foil hat defeated by ingestible Google. Excuse me waiter, is this cheeseburger Google free?

    • Works for me, and I'd pay for it. I'd pay for it a lot more if Google and I were *free* to do whatever we thought made medical sense. Google over medicare/medicaid/Obamacare any time.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      Do you not have any laws regarding the use of medical data in the US? In most of Europe businesses that handle medical data are controlled very strictly, and not allowed to share it with "affiliates" unless there is a medical need and you give your consent.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Do you not have any laws regarding the use of medical data in the US? In most of Europe businesses that handle medical data are controlled very strictly, and not allowed to share it with "affiliates" unless there is a medical need and you give your consent.

        In theory yes. However, this is Google we're talking about, and this sensor isn't being developed from the goodness of Google's heart. No, Google makes money gathering information and knowing as much as possible about you. (It's interesting people think F

  • So Many Questions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 28, 2014 @06:09PM (#48255995)

    So, once the antibody attaches to something, how do you get it to detach so that it can go to the rendezvous point?
    So you inject a thousand different particles, how do you "read" which ones interacted with something?
    Hmm, you also have to have a marker for each disease - a marker that is extraordinarily specific. These don't exist either.

    While I hope it works, I suspect that this project this project will go nowhere. BTW - antibodies are about 14 nm long, 9 nm wide, probably about 4 nm in smallest dimension (possibly much larger, depending on the type of antibody) which is significantly larger than the story implies. I'll believe it when I see it.

    Sounds to me like someone has done some creative writing to get their project funded.

    • Dont worry, Google has plenty of money to wash down the drain.
    • antibodies are special proteins generated by your body to attach to, and then neutralize foreign bodies for elimination either in the liver, or via excretion through the renal system.

      This means the bodies are fully free-floating in the circulatory system, and are much smaller in size than are red or white corpuscles. These are basically just large molecules, compared to WHOLE GODDAMN CELLS you have suspended in your blood plasma. (For a reasonable comparison, compare a golfball to a semi truck. An antibody

  • by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2014 @06:11PM (#48256015)

    "I'm not sure I have cancer, but based on the ads I've been seeing lately..."

    • by PJ6 ( 1151747 )

      "I'm not sure I have cancer, but based on the ads I've been seeing lately..."

      This idea would make for a good near-future science fiction short story, riffing off what's already happened to pregnant teens.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ..in order to view your upcoming heart attacks and your terminal diseases. Share the news with your circles so they can +1 you for support!

  • by ISoldat53 ( 977164 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2014 @06:15PM (#48256051)
    My doctors don't believe in doing any tests that aren't indicated by an existing condition. Why cause concern if something is found? What about false positives? Is it going to cost a lot of money? Will insurance pay for it? Once a condition is diagnosed then insurance will pay for it but not before. Prventative medicine is not practices here.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My doctors don't believe in doing any tests that aren't indicated by an existing condition. Why cause concern if something is found? What about false positives? Is it going to cost a lot of money? Will insurance pay for it? Once a condition is diagnosed then insurance will pay for it but not before. Prventative medicine is not practices here.

      You must not be in America. Here the doctor is sure to test your blood for cholesterol and write you a prescription for a statin, because that's what the drug reps tell them to do.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Only cholesterol? I get two blood screenings per year, 100% covered by insurance, each covers almost 40 different things. At the comfort of my work during a paid break, I get to sit down with a nurse and go over my results and talk about my general health. They'll even set me up with an on-site nutritionist for free.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Google X is a data company, not a nanomaterials company. They've had some success combining existing tech into a paltform like the self driving cars, but nanoparticles are still in the lab-phase and trying hard to transition to an application phase. So i feel like it's inaccurate to say Google is developing this, especially when the article says they're looking for partners. The partner is the one to develop this.

    The right guy, who's also just a stone's throw away from Google, is Bell Biosystems, they ha

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If all the nanoparticles end up sticking together and blocking an artery they can just stick you in a big degausser to get them to break up.

  • Ok (Score:4, Funny)

    by TheDarkener ( 198348 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2014 @06:19PM (#48256095) Homepage

    "...the company is fashioning nanoparticles—particles about one billionth of a meter in width"

    Because traditionally, measurements in the ingredients of pills are in meters.

    • Re:Ok (Score:5, Funny)

      by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2014 @06:32PM (#48256187)

      "...the company is fashioning nanoparticles—particles about one billionth of a meter in width"

      Because traditionally, measurements in the ingredients of pills are in meters.

      Sure, only about one billionth of a meter in width, but the pills are *really* long ...

      • Prof. Farnsworth: This is chance for Fry to test out my experimental Google Pill.
        [He pulls out a huge black pill.]
      • Fry: I can't swallow that.
      • Prof. Farnsworth: Well then good news! It's a suppository.
      • by pepty ( 1976012 )
        Particles about one billionth of a meter in width are smaller than the antibodies that are supposed to be coating them. Even an ScFV (useful fragment derived from an antibody) is over 3 nm.
  • One pill makes you larger And one pill makes you small And the ones that mother gives you Don't do anything at all Go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall - Grace Slick Or...The Matrix version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] Med research stuff takes a decade to go through trials, endless approval and patent stuff, etc. It's like Conan and Andy said, "In the year 2000..."
  • by FrankDrebin ( 238464 ) on Tuesday October 28, 2014 @06:54PM (#48256355) Homepage
    "Hey, why did the | I'm Feeling Lucky | button disappear?"
  • "Proactive and preventative", eh. Let's say Google wants a larger percentage of the population
    to be apt at programming. Would be nice to have a pill that would proactively and preventatively
    aborts unneeded foetuses -- those with relatively limited perspective -- in Google's programmatic,
    programmed, proactive, preventative world.
    /p?

  • Google: We have found a cure for cancer
    Typical Slashdotter: Nah. If I have cancer, I will live with it. I don't want to risk you showing me ads relevant to cancer survivors. I much prefer the ads for tampons I see now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    the nanoparticles will cause it.

  • Far and away the biggest challenge here is to figure out a "marker of a given disease". If the "marker" is something circulating in the blood, then this project is basically developing a chemistry test that can be ingested as a pill, absorbed into the blood, run autonomously in the bloodstream, collected magnetically and interpreted on the spot. Alternatively, you could do a simple blood draw and send the tube to the lab. Right now, we don't have any effective cancer screening based on this approach. If t
  • You mean the particles so tiny, they can easily pass thru the blood / brain barrier and do unimaginable neurological damage? Those particles? #WhatCouldPossiblyGoWrong

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