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Biogen, Google team up in MS effort


Biogen Idec and Google X labs are working together to study the factors that contribute to the progression of multiple sclerosis, according to media reports. The joint effort could lead to a better understanding of the disease, and provide better matching of patients and drugs.

The data will be gathered through the use of sensors, software and data analysis. The two firms will then sift through the collected data from people with the disease in an effort to determine why disease progression varies for each patient, according to a Bloomberg news report.

According to Bloomberg, this is not the first venture of this sort for either company. Biogen has previously run a Fitbit study to test its reliability as a data-gathering tool and is developing an iPad app with the Cleveland Clinic to track disease progression in patients. This is the second joint venture for Google X labs. Its first was the development of a contact lens to measure glucose in diabetes patients’ tears.

“Our central thesis is to change health care from being reactive to proactive,” Andrew Conrad, head of the Google X labs told Bloomberg in a telephone interview. “We’re trying to understand disease at its onset and see if we can intervene early.”

“They bring great expertise in data analytics and technology, they’re sophisticated in their approach, they understand biology,” said Biogen CEO George Scangos told Bloomberg news.

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