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Google wants to predict your next medical problem before symptoms appear


We first heard about Google’s Baseline Study a couple of years ago. At the time, it was a bold Google moonshot aiming to develop means of detecting medical conditions before they actually present any symptoms. The project has evolved since then, and it’s now part of Verily, a unit of Google’s parent company Alphabet. Verily is about to kickstart a four-year study with about 10,000 participants to understand exactly how people get sick.

The study could help physicians treat certain diseases well before they present symptoms or immediately after the first symptoms kick in. However, until that happens, Verily will work with Duke University and Stanford Medicine to observe healthy people of all ages and ethnicities, and monitor their health and other data to come up with prediction models for certain illnesses.

“The Project Baseline study has the opportunity to significantly influence our current body of knowledge by better understanding the indicators of wellness,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown told Reuters. “The outcome of this study could inspire a new generation of tools that are geared towards disease prevention versus just diagnosis and treatment.”

The study will collect data via periodical surveys. Once a year, participants will come in for a blood test, at which point saliva and tears will also be collected, in addition to genetic data.

The participants will also wear smart devices that will keep track of their heart rate and activity. What’s interesting about the Study Watch (image above), Business Insider explains, is that it only shows the time to the wearer. All the data is sent directly to Verily.

The company intends to keep the participants in the study beyond the initial four years to gain valuable insights on how certain diseases like cancer and heart disease develop before being diagnosed.