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Why is Google so committed to Diabetes?

An experimental contact lens being developed by Google can painlessly measure glucose levels in tears. Photo Credit_Google An experimental contact lens being developed by Google can painlessly measure glucose levels in tears. Photo Credit: Google

Millions of people with diabetes prick a finger more than five times a day to monitor their blood glucose levels. It’s a painful and expensive process.

But now, Google’s Life Sciences division is putting its immense resources behind new initiatives aimed at helping them better live with the disease.

“It’s really hard for people to manage their blood sugar,” said Jacquelyn Miller, a Google Life Sciences spokeswoman, in an interview with KQED. “We’re hoping to take some of the guesswork out of it.”

Earlier this week the new Google Life Sciences unit announced that diabetes is the company’s first major disease target. It may come as a surprise that Google, a company that helps people search online for flights and restaurants and dabbles in other ventures like self-driving cars, is investing in new therapies to treat disease.

But according to Michael Chae, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter at the American Diabetes Association, Google’s decision is a no-brainer. It’s a highly lucrative opportunity. In 2012, the total cost of managing diabetes was put at $245 billion in the U.S. alone. The timing also appears just right for technology companies to enter the field.

“There’s been an explosion of wearables, data and analytics,” Chae said. “People with diabetes are more comfortable living in a measured world.”

He envisions a future where people with diabetes can measure their blood glucose levels on a continuous basis, using painless methods. One of Google’s emerging products is a contact lens embedded with a glitter-sized sensor that can measure glucose levels in tears. “There’s a whole lot of innovation at once,” he said.

Find this article in full at NPR.Org

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