Google X has partnered with Biogen Idec, the MS drug maker, to help expand their efforts into medical research. The pair will focus on the study of environmental and biological factors that normally accompany multiple sclerosis progression, according to a report from Bloomberg.
The plan will include the use of sensors, software and data analysis tools to collect and analyze data from those dealing with multiple sclerosis. This will help explore why MS progresses so differently from patient to patient.
This partnership will be the second major “pharma deal” for the Google X labs. Specifically this project will reside in the life science division of Google X. The Google X labs have developed such creations as Google Glass and a highly publicized fleet of self-driving cars.
Google X has stated that the primary mission of the project is to change the way they approach medical services. Andrew Conrad, head of Google X notes, “Our central thesis is to change health care from being reactive to proactive.”
Impressively, the work has already begun as Biogen recently announced that it was already using Fitbit bands to gather data from a group of 250 MS patients. The Fitbits have provided a unique and brilliant way to track the activity level and sleep patterns of those being studied. The Fitbits will build upon the work Biogen did last summer whereby they worked with the Cleveland Clinic to develop an iPad app that has begun to assess MS progression noninvasively.
The additional resources and technical expertise of Google X will help Biogen develop more effective drug treatments. In addition, the research may bolster the work in proving the value of the drug benefits to Pharmacy Benefit Managers. With medical costs under constant scrutiny, Benefit Managers have been cracking down on high priced drugs. Traditionally, MS treatments are among the most expensive, which means they are or soon will be targeted more and more.
Biogen CEO, George Scangos commented on the partnership, “They (Google) bring great expertise in data analytics and technology, they’re sophisticated in their approach, they understand biology.”
Are you optimistic about this new partnership?
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