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July 25, 2014

Google searches deeper into human body

New genetic study could define a healthy human.

By CBR Staff Writer

Google has embarked on Baseline Study – a quest inside the human body, as part of its mission to define the ideal ‘healthy human’.

In what is said to be the tech firm’s most ambitious and difficult science project ever, Google X’s latest Moonshot Project involves the collection of a mass of genetic and molecular information to develop a picture of what makes up the perfect healthy human.

Google X’s Dr. Andrew Conrad told the Wall Street Journal: "With any complex system, the notion has always been there to proactively address problems.

"That’s not revolutionary. We are just asking the question: If we really wanted to be proactive, what would we need to know? You need to know what the fixed, well-running thing should look like."

Without bounding to specific diseases, the project will gather different samples via a range of new diagnostic tools and then Google will deploy its computing command to uncover patterns or ‘biomarkers’ beneath the information.

Medical researchers can use the discovered biomarkers to become aware of any disease a much earlier.

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Google noted that the information obtained from Baseline Study will be secret, with its use being limited only to medical and health purposes, and not to be shared with insurance firms.

Institutional review boards will monitor the Baseline project, supervising all medical research involving humans and, once the study gets accelerated, boards operated by the medical schools at Duke University and Stanford University would keep an eye on how the data is used.

Stanford University’s medical school Department of Radiology chair, Sam Gambhir, said: "That’s certainly an issue that’s been discussed.

"Google will not be allowed free rein to do whatever it wants with this data."

As part of the Baseline Study, the team will initially collect its information from 175 volunteers, with several thousands more anticipated to join the project over time.

Furthermore, the Google and other researchers will be able to access data including participants’ entire genomes; parents’ genetic record; information on how they metabolise food, nutrients and drugs; their heart beat rate under stress; and the impact of chemical reactions on their genes.

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