Search giant Google is developing a pill that aims to detect life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and heart disease in the earliest stages.
Still in the very experimental phase at research unit Google X, the idea behind the pill is that it releases a bunch of nano particles peppered with antibodies or other proteins attuned to certain biomarkers of disease around the body.
Because the nano particles are magnetised, after they have run through the bloodstream in search of these biomarkers they can be called back to a particular site to deliver their results. The data would then be collected by a wrist-worn smart device.
Google said it is now looking for partners to take its research forward, and stressed that it wouldn’t be involved in actually collecting any of the data.
While the idea seems a no-brainer - particularly as the focus in health is now much more on prevention of disease - and some of the principles are already in practice, there are concerns over the potential impact of “false positives”, as with other screening methods, and over-medicalising the population.
Regulators will also need to be convinced of the safety of sending thousands of magnetised particles around the body, and privacy/security fears will need addressed.
However, if successful, Google’s head of life sciences, Andrew Conrad, reportedly told the media that doctors could be in charge of the technology within 10 years.