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Google Takes on America’s Big Health Crisis

Google (GOOGL), that amazing innovator, is turning its well-funded and creative energy on diabetes – one of the country’s most prevalent health issues.

The disease is the first major target of Google’s Life Sciences division. It might sound out of place for Google to enter the medical field, but the company’s penchant for organizing and analyzing data would be highly useful for diabetics.

Living with the disease is all about managing your blood glucose numbers, which are influenced by things like diet, exercise, metabolism, time of day, etc.

“Unlike a migraine or acne, diabetes management is all about developing an understanding and manipulation of numbers over time. Diabetes is very quantitative,” said Cyrus Khambatta in an NPR interview. Khambatta has Type 1 diabetes and works as a nutritionist.

This is also a very lucrative time for Google to break into this field. NPR reported that the total cost of managing diabetes was $245 billion just in the United States. Socially, we’re also much more open to wearable technology and gathering personal data about ourselves, like with a Fitbit.

One of Google’s first emerging products is a contact lens with a tiny sensor embedded in it that can measure blood glucose levels using tears.

This is appealing to diabetics because it eliminates the pain and process of checking glucose levels using blood obtained from a pinprick. It’s also more discrete than wearing an insulin pump and sensor, which looks like a beeper with thin tubing that connects to a needle in the abdomen.

Another Letter in the Alphabet

This undertaking aligns the company’s shoot-for-the-moon attitude, a la self-driving cars and stratospheric internet balloons.

Google’s Life Sciences division is a spinoff of the company’s secretive research arm, Google X. The division will sit under the organization’s new umbrella company, Alphabet.

The division has already announced partnerships with several medical companies, including Sanofi (SNY), which makes an insulin inhaler and several other diabetes management products, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Biogen Inc. (BIIB), Novartis AG (NVS), and DexCom, Inc. (DXCM).

Good investing,

Samantha Solomon

Samantha Solomon

, Special Correspondent

View More By Samantha Solomon