What if you could swallow a pill that regularly sweeps your bloodstream for diseases at their earliest points of development, warning you of cancer or a heart attack? Researchers at the semi-secretive Google X, a branch of Google a half-mile from its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., have just announced that they are working on such a project, and that they envision disease-detecting nanoparticles to pair with a wristband to scan any incoming data, reports Phys.org. This isn't the first time Google X has ventured into the realm of health technology; since its inception in 2010, the group has invented a spoon that cancels Parkinson's tremors and contact lenses that can monitor diabetics' glucose levels via tears.
Project head Dr. Andrew Conrad is a molecular biologist known for developing a cheap HIV test, reports the BBC. "What we are trying to do is change medicine from reactive and transactional to proactive and preventative," he said. The suite of nanoparticles could be programmed to, say, hunt down fatty plaques suggestive of an impending heart attack or stroke, or change color when in contact with potassium, high levels of which could suggest kidney disease. A wristband would take readings every day. For those worried about privacy, Google went public because it is now seeking partnerships for what it calls "prescriptive medical devices" that will be subject to doctor-patient privileges. In other words, Google is entering your bloodstream for your own good, not its own surveillance. (Check out this Google X project that features balloons.)