Google is trying to find out what makes the perfect human. But not so it can rebuild robots into the perfect species to take over the world. This research is so the tech giant can help doctors detect illness a lot sooner.
According to the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, for the mass study—called Baseline Study— researchers will collect anonymous genetic and molecular information from thousands of people, but they’ll be starting with just 175 samples(?). With all of that information, they plan to find out what a healthy body looks like so they can help doctors identify when something has gone wrong a lot earlier than when diseases make themselves known.
So how does Google really fit into this? Using their massive computing power, Google will assist by looking through all the data to find patterns and “biomarkers” that could inform doctors what to look for in a healthy patient. The study won’t just focus on preventing one disease so the potential benefit is huge for everyone.
Other mass medical studies have existed but the “biomarkers” that have been identified out of those studies have all related to the late stages of a disease, since most of these studies have focused on people who are already sick.
With this study, the focus will be on prevention of the disease altogether. So things they’ll be looking for include being able to determine if a person has a biomarker to help break down fat. If they identify that someone doesn’t have that biomarker, they could then assist that person in how to change their lifestyle or instruct them to begin a treatment . Without early detection, the inability to break down fat easily can lead to high cholesterol and heart disease.
This new project will be lead by 50-year-old Dr. Andrew Conrad, who is the molecular biologist responsible for cheap HIV tests for blood plasma samples. He joined Google’s research division—Google X—in March of last year and has assembled a team of 70 to 100 researchers and experts to help in this newest effort.
The study, which could walk a major line in privacy while also holding information that could be invaluable to insurance companies will be monitored by various review boards.