Something Powerful

Tell The Reader More

The headline and subheader tells us what you're offering, and the form header closes the deal. Over here you can explain why your offer is so great it's worth filling out a form for.


  • Bullets are great
  • For spelling out benefits and
  • Turning visitors into leads.

DiversityNursing Blog

Google[x] Reveals Nano Pill To Seek Out Cancerous Cells

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Oct 29, 2014 @ 03:11 PM

By Sarah Buhr


Detecting cancer could be as easy as popping a pill in the near future. Google’s head of life sciences, Andrew Conrad, took to the stage at the Wall Street Journal Digital conference to reveal that the tech giant’s secretive Google[x] lab has been working on a wearable device that couples with nanotechnology to detect disease within the body.

“We’re passionate about switching from reactive to proactive and we’re trying to provide the tools that make that feasible,” explained Conrad. This is a third project in a series of health initiatives for Google[x]. The team has already developed a smart contact lens that detects glucose levels for diabetics and utensils that help manage hand tremors in Parkinson’s patients.

The plan is to test whether tiny particles coated “magnetized” with antibodies can catch disease in its nascent stages. The tiny particles are essentially programmed to spread throughout the body via pill and then latch on to the abnormal cells. The wearable device then “calls” the nanoparticles back to ask them what’s going on with the body and to find out if the person who swallowed the pill has cancer or other diseases.

“Think of it as sort of like a mini self-driving car,” Conrad simplified with a clear reference to Google[x]‘s vehicular project. “We can make it park where we want it to.” Conrad went on with the car theme, saying the body is more important than a car and comparing our present healthcare system as something that basically only tries to change our oil after we’ve broken down. “We wouldn’t do that with a car,” he added.

Bikanta’s tiny diamonds luminesce cells in the body.

Similar to Y Combinator-backed Bikanta, the cells can also fluoresce with certain materials within the nanoparticles, helping cancer cells to show up on an MRI scan much earlier than has been possible before.

This has all sorts of implications in medicine. According to a separately released statement from Google today, “Maybe there could be a test for the enzymes given off by arterial plaques that are about to rupture and cause a heart attack or stroke. Perhaps someone could develop a diagnostic for post-surgery or post-chemo cancer patients – that’s a lot of anxious people right there (note: we’d leave this ‘product development’ work to companies we’d license the tech to; they’d develop specific diagnostics and test them for efficacy and safety in clinical trials.”

We essentially wouldn’t need to go into the doctor and give urine and blood samples anymore. According to Conrad, we’d simply swallow a pill and monitor for disease on a daily basis. We’d also be able to upload that data into the cloud and send it to our doctor. “So your doctor could say well for 312 days of this year everything looks good but these past couple of months we’re detecting disease,” Conrad said.

Privacy and security, particularly in health care is essential. Google came under fire in the last couple of years for handing over information to the U.S. government. Conrad was quick to mention that a partner, not Google would be handling individual data. “It’d be like saying GE is in control of your x-ray. We are the creators of the tech and they are the disseminators,” Conrad clarified.

The U.S. government has an active interest in this space, as well. It’s invested over $20 billion in nanotechnology research since 2013.

This project is in the exploratory phases but Conrad was hopeful that we’d be seeing this technology in the hands of every doctor within the next decade. He also mentioned that his team has explored ways of not just detecting abnormal cells but also delivering medicine at the same time. “That’s certainly been discussed,” he said, but cautioned that this was something that needed to be carefully developed so that the nanoparticles had a chance to show what was happening in the body before destroying the cells.

So far 100 Google employees with expertise in astrophysics, chemistry and electrical engineering have taken part in the nanoparticle project. “We’re trying to stave off death by preventing disease. Our foe is unnecessary death,” Conrad added.


Topics: technology, health, healthcare, research, Google, disease, medical, cancer, nano pill, cancerous cells

What Is Perfect Human Health? Google Wants to Map It

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Aug 04, 2014 @ 04:53 PM


140803 healthy man jsw 1213p 1935fb6315c995455b85c2585e385db5.nbcnews fp 1600 600 resized 600

Google mapped the world's streets and developed self-driving cars to roam them. Now, the company wants to map something much larger: perfect human health.

Google Baseline, announced last week, will collect molecular and genetic information from an initial 175 volunteers and later thousands more. The philosophy is to focus on the genetics of health itself, rather than focus on disease.

Health research experts agree that Google brings a fresh perspective and technological expertise to the complex world of genetics. But they aren't sold on all facets of Google's approach.

"We want to understand what it means to be healthy, down to the molecular and cellular level," Google said in a press release. Google repeated the phrase "what it means to be healthy" a few times -- and that's what worries one expert.

"My immediate question is, what does Google mean by that? Healthy for a six-year-old boy, or a 75-year-old woman? You're injecting values about the range of humanity, right off the bat," said Arthur Caplan, the director of the division of medical ethics at the NYU Langone Medical Center and an NBC News contributor.

Google isn't purporting to develop a model of the singular perfect human. The goal is to analyze participants' data from to uncover "biomarkers," or patterns, that can be used to detect disease earlier.

"It's a perfectly reasonable approach, but I wouldn't do it under the 'what it means to be healthy' mission statement," Caplan said. "Those are fighting words. The mother of a child with Down's syndrome may consider her child perfectly healthy."

What's more, genetics alone doesn't provide a full picture of health or of disease, pointed out Kedar Mate, M.D., the vice president of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a Massachusetts-based not-for-profit.

"Genes are about 15 to 40 percent, behavioral patterns 30 to 40, socioeconomic factors 20 to 30, etc.," Mate told NBC News. "So even a wonderful genetic model is not a total picture of health."

What makes Baseline different, Google argues, is that it will "try to connect traditional clinical observations of health" like diet and other habits with genetic information.

But while Google (nor anyone) can't create the full model of perfect health, the company still brings two major advantages to the field: technological power and an outsider perspective.

"Anyone can collect 175 DNA samples," Caplan said. "But Google is a very, very powerful computational company. That's what makes it exciting."

Google's trove of technology resources and know-how could create a faster, smarter process for analyzing the links between genes and disease.

But not everyone in the field considers Google's computational power a major boost. Some genomics experts scoffed online at Google's assertion that Baseline is a "clinical research study that has never been done before."

"Frankly, anything Google does gets attention," Mate said.

"What would make it really different is Google's knowledge of so much of our behavior," he added. "If Google could take all of that and combine it with genetic information -- no other organization can offer us that."

But given what little we know about Baseline, it doesn't sound like Google is planning to do that -- at least not now. It's not clear they could, even if they wanted to.

Google declined to comment to NBC News on that point, or on the Baseline project overall. But the company told the Wall Street Journal, that use of data will be limited to medical and health purposes -- and won't be shared with insurance companies, for example.

Whether Google would -- or even could -- move to combine health data with the rest of the information it knows about our behavior, Mate insisted the nature of Google's business adds a unique element to the pursuit of health.

"You wonder if they’ll bring a fresh and different perspective, because this isn’t a stodgy academic project," Mate said. "The entry of a player like Google has the ability to stimulate the space -- and break it out of the way things have always been done."


Topics: health, genetics, research, Google, human, perfect health

Apple, Google, Samsung vie to bring health apps to wearables

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jun 23, 2014 @ 12:54 PM


download resized 600

SAN FRANCISCO, USA - For decades, medical technology firms have searched for ways to let diabetics check blood sugar easily, with scant success. Now, the world's largest mobile technology firms are getting in on the act.

Apple Inc, Samsung Electronics Co and Google Inc, searching for applications that could turn nascent wearable technology like smartwatches and bracelets from curiosities into must-have items, have all set their sites on monitoring blood sugar, several people familiar with the plans say.
These firms are variously hiring medical scientists and engineers, asking U.S. regulators about oversight and developing glucose-measuring features in future wearable devices, the sources said.
The first round of technology may be limited, but eventually the companies could compete in a global blood-sugar tracking market worth over $12 billion by 2017, according to research firm GlobalData.
Diabetes afflicts 29 million Americans and costs the economy some $245 billion in 2012, a 41 percent rise in five years. Many diabetics prick their fingers as much as 10 times daily in order to check levels of a type of sugar called glucose.
Non-invasive technology could take many forms. Electricity or ultrasound could pull glucose through the skin for measurement, for instance, or a light could be shined through the skin so that a spectroscope could measure for indications of glucose.
"All the biggies want glucose on their phone," said John Smith, former chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson's LifeScan, which makes blood glucose monitoring supplies. "Get it right, and there's an enormous payoff."
Apple, Google and Samsung declined to comment, but Courtney Lias, director at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's chemistry and toxicology devices division, told Reuters a marriage between mobile devices and glucose-sensing is "made in heaven."
In a December meeting with Apple executives, the FDA described how it may regulate a glucometer that measures blood sugar, according to an FDA summary of the discussion.
Such a device could avoid regulation if used for nutrition, but if marketed to diabetics, it likely would be regulated as a medical device, according to the summary, first reported by the Apple Toolbox blog.
The tech companies are likely to start off focusing on non-medical applications, such as fitness and education.
Even an educational device would need a breakthrough from current technology, though, and some in the medical industry say the tech firms, new to the medical world, don't understand the core challenges.
"There is a cemetery full of efforts" to measure glucose in a non-invasive way, said DexCom chief executive Terrance Gregg, whose firm is known for minimally invasive techniques. To succeed would require "several hundred million dollars or even a billion dollars," he said.



Silicon Valley is already opening its vast wallet.


Medtronic Inc Senior Vice President of Medicine and Technology Stephen Oesterle recently said he now considers Google to be the medical device firm's next great rival, thanks to its funding for research and development, or R&D.


"We spend $1.5 billion a year on R&D at Medtronic - and it's mostly D," he told the audience at a recent conference. "Google is spending $8 billion a year on R&D and, as far as I can tell, it's mostly R."


Google has been public about some of its plans: it has developed a "smart" contact lens that measures glucose. In a blog post detailing plans for its smart contact lens, Google described an LED system that could warn of high or low blood sugar by flashing tiny lights. It has recently said it is looking for partners to bring the lens to market.


The device, which uses tiny chips and sensors that resemble bits of glitter to measure glucose levels in tears, is expected to be years away from commercial development, and skeptics wonder if it will ever be ready.


Previous attempts at accurate non-invasive measurement have been foiled by body movement, and fluctuations in hydration and temperature. Tears also have lower concentrations of glucose, which are harder to track.


But the Life Sciences team in charge of the lens and other related research is housed at the Google X facility, where it works on major breakthroughs such as the self-driving car, a former employee who requested anonymity said.


Apple's efforts center on its iWatch, which is on track to ship in October, three sources at leading supply chain firms told Reuters. It is not clear whether the initial release will incorporate glucose-tracking sensors.


Still, Apple has poached executives and bio-sensor engineers from such medical technology firms as Masimo Corp, Vital Connect, and the now-defunct glucose monitoring startup C8 Medisensors.


"It has scooped up many of the most talented people with glucose-sensing expertise," said George Palikaras, CEO of Mediwise, a startup that hopes to measure blood sugar levels beneath the skin's surface by transmitting radio waves through a section of the human body.


The tech companies are also drawing mainstream interest to the field, he said. "When Google announced its smart contact lens, that was one of the best days of my career. We started getting a ton of emails," Palikaras said.


Samsung was among the first tech companies to produce a smartwatch, which failed to catch on widely. It since has introduced a platform for mobile health, called Simband, which could be used on smart wrist bands and other mobile devices.


Samsung is looking for partners and will allow developers to try out different sensors and software. One Samsung employee, who declined to be named, said the company expects to foster noninvasive glucose monitoring.


Sources said Samsung is working with startups to implement a "traffic light" system in future Galaxy Gear smartwatches that flashes blood-sugar warnings.


Samsung Ventures has made a number of investments in the field, including in Glooko, a startup that helps physicians access their patients' glucose readings, and in an Israeli glucose monitoring startup through its $50 million Digital Health Fund.


Ted Driscoll, a health investor with Claremont Creek Ventures, told Reuters he's heard pitches from potentially promising glucose monitoring startups, over a dozen in recent memory.


Software developers say they hope to incorporate blood glucose data into health apps, which is of particular interest to athletes and health-conscious users.


"We're paying close attention to research around how sugar impacts weight loss," said Mike Lee, cofounder of MyFitnessPal.


After decades of false starts, many medical scientists are confident about a breakthrough on glucose monitoring. Processing power allows quick testing of complex ideas, and the miniaturization of sensors, the low cost of electronics, and the rapid proliferation of mobile devices have given rise to new opportunities.


One optimist is Jay Subhash, a recently-departed senior product manager for Samsung Electronics. "I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it one of these days," he said. — Reuters


Topics: apps, health, Google, electronics, Apple, samsung

Google Glass Enters the Operating Room

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jun 02, 2014 @ 02:05 PM


 30wellgoogleglass tmagArticle

DURHAM, N.C. — Before scrubbing in on a recent Tuesday morning, Dr. Selene Parekh, an orthopedic surgeon here at Duke Medical Center, slipped on a pair of sleek, black glasses — Google Glass, the wearable computer with a built-in camera and monitor.

He gave the Internet-connected glasses a voice command to start recording and turned to the middle-aged motorcycle crash victim on the operating table. He chiseled through bone, repaired a broken metatarsal and drilled a metal plate into the patient’s foot.

Dr. Parekh has been using Glass since last year, when Google began selling test versions of its device to thousands of handpicked “explorers” for $1,500. He now uses it to record and archive all of his surgeries at Duke, and soon he will use it to stream live feeds of his operations to hospitals in India as a way to train and educate orthopedic surgeons there.

“In India, foot and ankle surgery is about 40 years behind where we are in the U.S.,” he said. “So to be able to use Glass to broadcast this and have orthopedic surgeons around the world watch and learn from expert surgeons in the U.S. would be tremendous.”

At Duke and other hospitals, a growing number of surgeons are using Google Glass to stream their operations online, float medical images in their field of view, and hold video consultations with colleagues as they operate.

Software developers, too, have created programs that transform the Glass projector into a medical dashboard that displays patient vital signs, urgent lab results and surgical checklists.

“I’m sure we’re going to use this in medicine,” said Dr. Oliver J. Muensterer, a pediatric surgeon who recently published the first peer-reviewed study on the use of Glass in clinical medicine. “Not the current version, but a version in the future that is specially made for health care with all the privacy, hardware and software issues worked out.”

For his study, published in The International Journal of Surgery, Dr. Muensterer wore the device daily for four weeks at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center in New York. He found that filming rapidly drains the battery and that the camera — which is mounted straight ahead — does not point directly at what he is looking at when he is hunched over a patient with his eyes tilted downward.

He also had to keep the device disconnected from the Internet most of the time to prevent patient data and images from being automatically uploaded to the cloud. “Once it’s on the cloud, you don’t know who has access to it,” Dr. Muensterer said.

Google has yet to announce a release date for Glass, and the company declined to comment on how many of its testers were doctors or affiliated with hospitals. But “demand is high,” said Nate Gross, a co-founder of Rock Health, a medical technology incubator. “I probably get asked every few days by another doctor who wants to somehow incorporate Glass into their practice.”

And already, outside hospitals, privacy concerns have led some bars and restaurants to ban the devices. Legislators have proposed restrictions on the use of Google Glass while driving, citing concerns about distraction. Doctors, too, are raising similar concerns.

The Glass projector is slightly above the user’s right eye, allowing doctors to see medical information without turning away from patients. But the display can also be used to see email and surf the web, potentially allowing doctors to take multitasking to dangerous new levels, said Dr. Peter J. Papadakos at the University of Rochester Medical Center, who has published articles on electronic distractions in medicine.

“Being able to see your laparoscopic images when you’re operating face to face instead of looking across the room at a projection screen is just mind-bogglingly fantastic,” he said. “But the downside is you don’t want that same surgeon interacting with social media while he’s operating.”

Indeed, similar technology has not always had the smoothest results. Studies have found, for example, that navigational displays can help surgeons find tumors, but they can also induce a form of tunnel vision, or perceptual blindness, that makes them more likely to miss unrelated lesions or problems in surrounding tissue. And in aviation, pilots who wear head-mounted displays that show crucial flight information can lose sight of what is happening outside their windshields, said Dr. Caroline G. L. Caowho studies image-guided surgery at Wright State University.

“Pilots can get so focused on aligning the icons that help them land the plane,” she said, “that they miss another plane that is crossing the runway.”

One doctor who does not allow the device in his practice, Dr. Matthew S. Katz, the medical director of radiation oncology at Lowell General Hospital in Massachusetts, said that security and distractions were primary concerns. A doctor wearing Glass could accidentally stream confidential medical information online, he said, and patients might not feel comfortable with their doctors wearing cameras on their faces.

Until Glass has been better studied in health care and equipped with safeguards, Dr. Katz said, doctors should be forced to check their wearable computers at the clinic door.

“From an ethical standpoint, the bar is higher for use in a medical setting,” said Dr. Katz, who is also an outside adviser for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. “As a doctor, I have to make sure that what I’m doing is safe and secure for my patients — ‘First, do no harm.’ Until I am, I don’t want it in my practice.”

Bakul Patel, the senior policy adviser at the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices, said the agency would regulate only those Glass software programs that function as medical devices, the same approach it takes on health applications on hand-held devices.

“The glasses have been on our radar and we’re excited about it,” Mr. Patel said.

Hospitals that are experimenting with Glass say they are doing so very carefully — obtaining patient consent before procedures, using encrypted networks, and complying with the federal regulation that protects patient privacy, known as Hipaa.

Medical software developers say they, too, have security and privacy in mind. Pristine, a company based in Austin, Tex., createdan app that lets emergency room nurses and doctors beam in specialists for consultations. The company plans to sell a customized version of Glass directly to hospitals. It erases Google’s software and configures the glasses with its own Hipaa-compliant programs.

Another company, Augmedix, which has done pilot tests of Glass at medical centers in the San Francisco area, said patients were informed that their doctors would be wearing the device. In a study of 200 cases, only two or three patients asked that their doctors remove it, said Ian K. Shakil, a co-founder of Augmedix.

Some hospitals see Glass as a relatively low-cost and versatile innovation, much like smartphones and tablets, which more than half of all health care providers use to get access to patient data and other medical information.

But hand-held devices are not very useful in the sterile world of surgery. Because Glass is voice-activated and hands-free, it may be particularly well suited for the surgical suite, where camera-guided instruments, robotics and 3D navigation systems have been commonplace for years.

Dr. Pierre Theodore, a cardiothoracic surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco, calls wearable computers “a game changer.”

“In surgery, Google Glass is incredibly illuminating,” said Dr. Theodore, who uses Glass to float X-rays and CT scans in his field of view at the operating table. “It helps you pinpoint what you’re looking for, so you don’t have to shift your attention away from the operation to look at a monitor somewhere else.”

At Indiana University Health, Dr. Paul P. Szotek, a Level 1 trauma surgeon, is developing an app for Glass for use by paramedics.

The app streams a live feed from the glasses to the closest emergency rooms, so that doctors can see accident victims at the scene and give paramedics potentially lifesaving instructions — like when to go directly to a Level 1 trauma center.

“Last year, I lost a lady on the table from a spleen injury that was absolutely survivable because she was taken to a local hospital and then the delay was over two hours to get her to me,” Dr. Szotek said. “With this wearable technology, we’ll be able to assess patients on the scene and decrease the mortality associated with trauma significantly.”

Dr. Szotek met with Google in March to discuss his software, called 1st Sight. He and other Glass-wearing surgeons recently founded a group — the International Society for Wearable Technology in Healthcare — that is holding its first meeting in Indianapolis in July.

At Duke, Dr. Parekh performs back-to-back surgeries on most days, wearing the Glass headset as he moves from one patient to the next.

About six years ago, he founded a charity with the goal of advancing foot and ankle surgery in India. He travels there every year with a team of expert surgeons to hold clinics and training sessions for local orthopedic surgeons.

In January, at a conference in Jaipur, Dr. Parekh performed surgery and used Glass to stream the procedure on his personal website. That day, the site drew in so many visitors from India and elsewhere that it crashed.

“I’ve been even more excited about Google Glass since then,” he said.


Topics: glass, nursing, technology, healthcare, Google, doctors

Recent Jobs

Article or Blog Submissions

If you are interested in submitting content for our Blog, please ensure it fits the criteria below:
  • Relevant information for Nurses
  • Does NOT promote a product
  • Informative about Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Agreement to publish on our Blog is at our sole discretion.

Thank you

Subscribe to Email our eNewsletter

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all