Is a Cancer-Detecting Pill in Our Future?

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the Cancer Therapy Advisor take:

In an announcement released on Tuesday, a Google tech lab said it was working on a new technology that would pack as many as 2,000 tiny magnetic nanoparticles in a small pill that could be swallowed and would then be absorbed into a patient’s bloodstream. The particles would remain in the blood, seeking out malignant cells and reporting back in regular intervals over time to a sensor on a wearable device.

If successful, it would mean patients would not have to go through numerous invasive procedures in order to diagnose cancer, and may even be able to detect cancer at an early stage, therefore giving the patient a higher likelihood of survival.

However, this project is still in the works, and it may be a decade before it is ready to be tested and utilized in practice. The ultimate goal of this Google endeavor is to get a bigger picture of a patient's health instead of the small view a doctor may get when they draw blood, which is not enough to diagnose many cancers.

Currently, the team of researchers working on this nanoparticle project includes a cancer specialist, other doctors, an astrophysicist, and electrical and mechanical engineers, but they are still looking for business partners to license and market this cancer-detecting pill.

Is a Cancer-Detecting Pill in Our Future?
New technology that packs 2,000 tiny magnetic nanoparticles in a cancer-detecting pill.

Still in the experimental stage, the pill is packed with tiny magnetic particles, which can travel through a patient's bloodstream, search for malignant cells and report their findings to a sensor on a wearable device. As many as 2,000 of these microscopic "nanoparticles" could fit inside a single red blood cell to provide doctors with better insights about what is happening inside their patients. The project announced Tuesday is the latest effort to emerge from Google's X lab, which has been trying to open new technological frontiers to solve nettlesome problems and improve the quality of people's lives.

The same division is also working on several other outlandish projects that have little to do with Google's main business of Internet search and advertising: Self-driving cars, a computer called Glass that looks like eyeglasses, Internet-beam balloons and contact lenses that can measure glucose in tears.


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