Novartis teams up with Google to develop “smart” lens
This week a partnership between Goggle and Novartis has been announced, for the development of a “smart” contact lens to help diabetics track their blood sugar levels. This is the first big partnership made public between big pharma and big data to work together to revolutionise chronic disease monitoring and treatment.
This smart lens analyses the level of glucose in the wearer’s tear fluid and sends the data to a mobile device. For diabetics it means they won’t have to keep testing their own blood sugar level several times a day, which represents a great improvement in patients’ quality of life. Keeping a continuous readout of this information will also reduce the possibility of hypo- and hyperglycaemic attacks.
The marriage of big data and big pharma, and the emergence of “wearable” medical devices will benefit millions of patients suffering from this chronic disease globally. It will also help physicians identify and respond to abnormalities in the wearer’s health earlier, by accessing information in real-time.
Other areas of investigation in “wearable” medical devices include “electroceuticals”, which are implants able to modify functions of the body through electronic impulses.
Introducing these new technologies will certainly raise regulatory and ethical challenges, as highlighted by the Finanical Times. How to protect the privacy of the information collected by these devices? How to be sure the machine on which the patient is relying to monitor their health won’t fail? And, taking a step back from technical concerns, how far do we want to rely on automated devices to provide us with the information on which to base our medical decisions?
The fusion of data and medicine could lead to revolutionary innovations and wide potential applications to improve healthcare. But before we go too far with it, there are certainly issues and questions that need to be addressed.
At the Big Data in Pharma Briefing, we will explore how you can capture the value of your data to boost R&D and enhance efficiency in developing new products.