Google announced a new "Nanoparticle Platform" project Tuesday to develop medical diagnostic technology using nanoparticles, Andrew Conrad, head of the Google X Life Sciences team, disclosed at The Wall Street Journal's WSJD Live conference.

The idea is to use nanoparticles with magnetic cores circulating in the bloodstream with recognition molecules to detect cancer, plaques, or too much sodium, for example.

There are a number of similar research projects using magnetic (and other) nanoparticles in progress, as reported on KurzweilAI. What's new in the Google project is delivering nanoparticles to the bloodstream via a pill and using a wearable wrist detector to detect the nanoparticles' magnetic field and read out diagnostic results.

But this is an ambitious moonshot project. "Google is at least five to seven years away from a product approved for use by doctors," said Sam Gambhir, chairman of radiology at Stanford University Medical School, who has been advising Dr. Conrad on the project for more than a year, the WSJ reports.

"Even if Google can make the system work, it wouldn't immediately be clear how to interpret the results. That is why Dr. Conrad's team started the Baseline study [see " New Google X Project to look for disease and health patterns in collected data "], which he hopes will create a benchmark for comparisons."

As part of the Baseline project, the Google X Life Sciences group has been developing related technology for wearable devices, to be worn by Baseline participants. The devices will collect data such as heart rates, heart rhythms, and oxygen levels.

For example, as KurzweilAI reported in January, a Google-designed contact lens uses a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material.

The chip was originally intended to help people with diabetes as they try to keep their blood sugar levels under control.

Credit: The Wall Street Journal Credit: The Wall Street Journal

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