Google working on cancer-detecting pill

Google’s latest X lab project is a pill that could detect cancer in a person’s body.

The pill, which is still in the experimental stage, is filled with tiny magnetic particles. The particles can travel through a person’s bloodstream, search for malignant cells and report the findings to a sensor on a wearable device, according to an Associated Press story.

The project is the latest effort announced out of Google’s X lab, which is also working on contact lenses that can measure glucose levels, among other projects.

Google believes the cancer-detecting particles can be coated with antibodies that bind with certain proteins or cells associated with specific diseases. The particles would remain in the blood and report back continuously on what they find over time, Andrew Conrad, head of life sciences at Google X, told the AP.

The goal is to get a big-picture look at a patient’s health, rather than the snapshot doctors get from a single blood draw that can’t detect early stages of many types of cancer, according to the AP.

Google is looking for ways to proactively monitor health and prevent disease, rather than diagnosing problems, Conrad told the AP.

Conrad said the team working on the cancer-detecting pill includes a cancer specialist and other doctors, as well as electrical and mechanical engineers and an astrophysicist who has been advising on how to track particle through the body, according to the AP.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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