Google's expansions into life sciences and genomics have raised two big, as yet unanswered, questions--how will they affect the industry, and what do they mean for the company? This week, the San Francisco Chronicle looked into possible answers to both questions.
The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health was thrust into the headlines last week when Google joined its ranks. This week it met for the first time to discuss its goals. Development of an open-source public application programming interface (API) for sequencing reads and genetic variants is high on the agenda.
Over the past year Google has increasingly extended its tendrils into healthcare, with the creation of Calico and development of smart contact lenses following on from earlier investments in DNAnexus and 23andMe.
A year ago, it was quite the thing in Silicon Valley to invest in a coffee shop. Now, interest appears to be shifting in favor of medical devices. Executives from Apple Inc. met with FDA regulators in December. The meeting, noted in the FDA's public calendar, came just a few days before members of an elite Google R&D team held a tete a tete with some of the same regulatory officials.
Following weeks of speculation about what a Google R&D team might have been doing at a December FDA meeting, the search-engine giant has confirmed that it's inventing a contact lens to help diabetes patients monitor their glucose levels. Google is now testing the lens, which measures glucose in tears with a miniaturized sensor and wireless chip.
Standing out in the congested genomics data analysis market is a challenge for startups, with each month bringing news of rivals' fresh investments and products. Maverix Biomics is one of many companies trying to gain a foothold in the sector, but it can boast a differentiating factor--one of Google's original angel investors has contributed funding.
Bloomberg's Brian Womack and Anna Edney read through the FDA's public calendar and found something interesting: A December meeting put eye device and mobile app regulators in the same room with members of a secretive Google R&D team.
Last winter, Google Flu Trends was shown to be a work in progress when it wildly overestimated incidence of influenza, but its algorithm-based model has considerable potential.
It is now two months since Google sparked speculation by unveiling vague but ambitious plans to enter the biotech sector. Details of what the spinout, called Calico, will do are still limited, but we now know some of the people who will run the show. Unsurprisingly, Google has poached some heavy hitters.
Google made major waves two months ago when it landed former Genentech CEO Art Levinson to run its still-murky Calico offshoot. Now the biotech elder statesman is reuniting with his former chief medical officer, convincing Hal Barron to leave his post at Roche and oversee R&D at the nascent company.