Search engine giant Google is looking into biotechnologies…
Having made a name for itself with various services including its search engine, messaging systems and other mobile applications, Google is already a big player on the digital scene with around a dozen companies grouped under the Alphabet umbrella. Two of them, Verily and Calico, are specialised in research into medical solutions and are the results of collaboration between researchers, doctors, web developers and engineers, with a number of pharmaceutical groups also involved, as reported by Objetsconnectes.
Verily – technology for health
Formerly known as Google Life Sciences, Verily’s aim is to improve the prevention of disease by perfecting medical technologies, in partnership with several pharmaceutical laboratories and thanks to financing from Google.
Verily’s research work has already seen the creation of connected contact lenses for diabetics which measure blood sugar levels in the eye in real time.
GV, previously known as Google Venture, has invested nigh on 2 billion US dollars into 300 strategic start-ups, including 20 or so which are specialised in research into specific health solutions, including 23 and Me for DNA testing, Grail, Armo Biosciences and Foundation Medicine in the identification and treatment of cancers, and Zephir Health, TinyRX and Oration in the sale and distribution of medicines. In 2014, Verily also bought Lift Labs, a company which designs anti-shaking spoons for people suffering from degenerative illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease.
As well as financial investment, the Alphabet group is also actively working in research thanks to a fruitful partnership between medical experts, nanotechnology engineers, chemists, biologists and professors from its various companies and those of its partners.
Health-related big data
Google is also financing Oscar Health, a US health insurance start-up which offers patients a search engine and medical advice as well as recording their treatment history, prescriptions and analysis results – information which is critical when it comes to selling them products that are better targeted to their needs while also representing the next step towards predictive medicine.
The Google Fit application meanwhile, when combined with Android Wear trackers in the form of a smart watch or connected bracelet, enables patients to measure their heart rate, body temperature and exposure to light and noise – all useful data for health care professionals to use. Google is working on having these trackers certified as medical equipment, and is already the market leader in health-related big data.
Calico working to fight the effects of ageing
Calico (which stands for California Life Company) is a futuristic project created in 2013 and aimed at "killing off death" by analysing the links between genetics and longevity. It is run in partnership with AncestryDNA, a specialist in genetic genealogy which sells ADN tests.
Beyond the quest for eternal youth, this Alphabet-run company’s main aim is to drive research into degenerative illnesses and ageing, including cancers and various illnesses which affect the brain.
With its search engine, data housing, messaging and now health-related services, Google is strategically positioned to become indispensable in a sector which affects every one of us. Yet while some people see the enormous potential for progress to be made, others are concerned that a global company of this kind could be difficult to control, the more it establishes itself.
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