Imagine having electronic surveillance systems in your body that were less than one ten-thousandth the width of a human hair. This is what the web giant Google is currently resaerching.
These so-called working nano-particle pills would be containers in which even smaller magnetic particles – with antibodies or proteins attached to them – would be capable of identifying a whole range of health issues before they become problematic for the user.
These incredibly small particles will detect so-called Biomarker molecules inside the body. These are carriers which give indications of diseases such as heart problems or cancer. To take advantage of this early warning system you would simply swallow the particle carrying pill. The magnetic detector particles spread quickly throughout the body.
The beauty of this system is that the very fact of their being magnetic means that they can be called upon by a monitor to give up their findings on demand. In a very real sense this is akin to a continuous thorough examination by a doctor which in fact is set to done by a wrist monitor – this would call up the particles by turning on a magnet above the wrist veins – on which you could read the findings.
Google are calling this innovative health check system the nano-particle platform. Since more than £100bn a year is spent on the National Health Service in Britain it is easy to see how big a market this could be and of course it could help ensure that those with less serious ailments need never waste the doctor’s time by visiting in person.
This is all part of a global drive toward what is referred to as pre-emptive rather than reactive medicine. If patients can alert their doctors that much sooner to problems highlighted by this system them the incidence of severe illness could be dramatically reduced and many lives could potentially be saved in the process
The so-called X-lab belonging to G conducted a baseline health study as part of the pre-emptive medicine initiative. There are around one hundred scientists actively seeking new ways of monitoring individual health. Even though the company concede that work is at a very early stage they are making the project public in hopes of finding partners to help make this astounding technology a reality sooner rather than later. forward.
There is no doubt that in medicine nano-technology is a new field and the risk of having nano-particles floating around the bloodstream are so far an unknown quantity. The web giant really does face an uphill fight to get this system on the table as an approved new diagnostic technology.
Such systems are of course highly regulated and Google would need to show unequivocally that the system was safe. This could take another five years but it seems that Star Trek medical devices may well become realty within the next decade.
Image via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartwatch#mediaviewer/File:WimmOneInBand.jpg
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