New Google X Project to look for disease and health patterns in collected data

July 25, 2014

Smart contact lens (credit: Google)

Google X has launched a new Moonshot project called Baseline Study to “collect anonymous genetic and molecular information from 175 people—and later thousands more—to create what the company hopes will be the fullest picture of what a healthy human being should be,” says The Wall Street Journal.

Specifically, Google will collect samples and look for disease and health biomarkers, or patterns.

The project is run by Andrew Conrad, a molecular biologist who pioneered cheap, high-volume tests for HIV in blood-plasma donations.

Wearable devices to collect data

The Google X Life Sciences group is also developing wearable devices to be worn by Baseline participants. The devices will collect other data, such as heart rates, heart rhythms, and oxygen levels.

Conrad said Baseline participants will likely wear a smart contact lens previously designed by Google to continuously measure glucose levels in tears for the study. As KurzweilAI reported in January, the 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.

The researchers hope that data gathered in this study will help researchers “detect killers such as heart disease and cancer far earlier, pushing medicine more toward prevention rather than the treatment of illness,” the WSJ said.

Boards run by the medical schools at Duke University and Stanford University will control how the information is used.