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Blood, spit and digital health: Google’s Verily launches study to better understand health

Analysis will gather data via wearables and blood and spit specimens

Google’s sister company Verily Life Sciences has teamed up with Duke University School of Medicine and Stanford Medicine, for the Project Baseline study. Known as a longitudinal study, it will collect broad phenotypic health data from approximately 10,000 participants, who will each be followed over the course of at least four years.

The study is the first stage of Project Baseline, designed to develop a well-defined reference, or “baseline,” of health as well as data that can be used to better understand the transition from health to disease and identify additional risk factors for disease.

Beyond this initial study, Project Baseline aims to test and develop new tools and technologies to access, organise and activate health information.

“With recent advances at the intersection of science and technology, we have the opportunity to characterise human health with unprecedented depth and precision,” said Jessica Mega, chief medical officer of Verily.

“The Project Baseline study is the first step on our journey to comprehensively map human health. Partnering with Duke, Stanford and our community of collaborators, we hope to create a dataset, tools and technologies that benefit the research ecosystem and humankind more broadly.”

The study will begin enrolling participants at the Stanford and Duke study sites within the next few months. Each site will gather deep datasets on participants through repeat clinical visits; daily use of a wrist-worn investigational device and other sensors; and regular participation in interactive surveys and polls by using a smartphone, computer or call centre. Data collected will include clinical, imaging, self-reported, physical, environmental, behavioural, sensor, molecular, genetic, and other health-related measurements. Biospecimens collected will include blood and saliva, among others.

“Through the Project Baseline study, we are aiming to engineer a true twenty-first century approach to health – in a preventive and personalized way,” said Dr Adrian Hernandez, professor of medicine at Duke and member of the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

“Instead of having the annual physical exam that has not changed in decades, we’re hoping to develop new platforms that will discover changes in health as they happen in meaningful and actionable ways. To do this successfully, we will partner with participants to learn and deliver the best approaches for every aspect of the study.”

“Currently, most of what we see as treating physicians are short snapshots in time of an individual and primarily after they are already ill. We are effectively missing a lot of valuable information years prior to illness,” said Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, chair of radiology at Stanford and director of the Canary Center for Cancer Early Detection.

“We’re dealing with illness in the absence of a well-defined reference of healthy biochemistry, and this underscores the criticality of what we hope to achieve here. By focusing on the health of a broad population, we can eventually have a meaningful impact on the well-being of patients around the world.”

 

 



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