Here's why Google is making human skin
Google is in the early stages of creating tiny, magnetic nanoparticles that will be able to search the human body for cancer and other diseases. The vision is that people will be able to swallow these nanoparticles, which will attach themselves to specific cells, proteins, and other molecules inside the body, depending on what they're "decorated" with.
For example, Google could coat its nanoparticles with a specific antibody that would recognize and attach to a protein on the surface of a tumor cell. When they come in contact with cancer cells, the nanoparticles will "light up." The pills will pair with a wristband, which will be able to detect any lighted nanoparticles in someone's blood.
To develop the pills and wristband, which are still a long way from becoming a reality, Google needs to measure how light passes through different types of skin. So, for its research, Google is making human skin in its Life Sciences facility. The Atlantic's James Hamblin interviewed Andrew Conrad, head of Google Life Sciences, about the company's vision and toured its lab. Here's what we learned:
Google has more than 100 doctors and researchers working on its health projects, which it started three years ago: The central thesis of what we're trying to do at Google Life Sciences is change medicine from being episodic and reactive (like, I go to the doctor when my arm hurts), to proactive and preventative," Conrad says.