Google X to help Biogen research MS progression

Biogen Idec

Google X is teaming-up with drugmaker Biogen Idec to study environmental and biological contributors to the multiple sclerosis (MS) progression, Bloomberg is reporting.

This isn’t the first health collaboration for the search giant’s life science division, which has hatched Google Glass and self-driving cars. Google X sees itself as providing the technical and innovative fire power for a “moonshot” in the health-care field, said Andrew Conrad, head of the division.

“Our central thesis is to change health care from being reactive to proactive,” he said. “We’re trying to understand disease at its onset and see if we can intervene early.”

Using sensors, software and data analysis tools, the two parties will collect and sift through data from people with the disease. The goal is to explain why multiple sclerosis progresses differently from patient to patient.

Biogen leads the market with five MS drugs and is on a mission to use new technologies to gather round-the-clock data on patients.Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Biogen leads the market with five MS drugs and is on a mission to use new technologies to gather round-the-clock data on patients. It has previously run a Fitbit study to see if fitness bands could be reliable data-gathering tools, and is developing an iPad app with the Cleveland Clinic to help physicians better assess their patients’ disease progression.

Multiple sclerosis affects 2.3 million people worldwide, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The disorder causes the immune system to attack myelin, a fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fibers. Patients can experience tingling, problems with walking and degrading vision. Their symptoms get worse as MS progresses.