Google Life Sciences graduates X Labs, partners with Sanofi, Joslin

By Jonah Comstock
08:57 am
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Sanofi's IGB Star connected glucometer. Sanofi's IBG Star connected glucometer.

Google Life Science's recently-announced partnership with Dexcom (not to mention its contact lens project with Novartis) have already made it clear that diabetes is a focus for the company. Now the company is making that focus official in a new partnership with Sanofi and the Joslin Diabetes Center.

"Today, we’re announcing a new partnership with Sanofi to move technology out of the lab more quickly and work on better ways for patients and physicians to collect, analyze, and understand all the multiple sources of information that impact diabetes management," Google's Life Sciences team wrote in a statement. "This collaboration will bring together life sciences companies, medical device companies, academic researchers, and patient advocacy groups, who can help evaluate and enable new kinds of interventions that help patients and physicians manage diabetes more proactively. For example, new technologies could make it simple for a physician to understand when a patient’s blood sugar is tracking high for days in a row, or could offer new ways for a patient to get real-time information and specific guidance about diet or insulin dosage."

The Life Sciences team "graduated" from Google X two weeks ago, and is in the process of becoming a standalone Alphabet company with a new, yet-to-be-announced, name. As part of that transition, a Google spokesperson told MobiHealthNews, the company is shifting from a technology-centric to a disease-centric mindset, with diabetes as the first disease.

"I am delighted to announce that the life sciences team is now ready to graduate from our X lab and become a standalone Alphabet company, with Andy Conrad as CEO," Google co-founder and Alphabet President Sergey Brin wrote in a blog post at the time. "While the reporting structure will be different, their goal remains the same. They’ll continue to work with other life sciences companies to move new technologies from early stage R&D to clinical testing—and, hopefully—transform the way we detect, prevent, and manage disease."

Google Life Sciences announced its partnership with Novartis subsidiary Alcon to develop a glucose-sensing contact lens last summer. Just two weeks ago the company announced a partnership with Dexcom to co-develop the next generation of Dexcom’s CGM — a device that is dime-sized, less expensive than current CGMs, and that the companies hope will eventually replace the fingerstick glucometer, not just for people with Type 1 diabetes but also eventually for those with Type 2 as well. All of these efforts are separate but, as the Alcon and Dexcom innovations become commercial products, the goal will be for all the different technologies to work together.

"Diabetes is a major focus area for the life sciences team at Google as we become a stand alone company," a Google spokesperson told MobiHealthNews. "Our approach includes complementary partnerships that work to make existing technology better, try to invent new technology, and aim to create better access to and understanding of information."

Of the latest partnership, Joslin President and CEO John Brooks said he hopes it will help address the widespread public health concern that diabetes represents.

“We are experiencing a worldwide pandemic of diabetes, and it's very encouraging to see healthcare and technology innovators step up to the challenge of providing cutting edge tools and care advancing technologies to help people with diabetes manage their disease, 24/7," he said in a statement. "Technology, sensors, analytics, and digital solutions will disrupt how blood sugars are managed, which will deliver improved quality of life, lowering the risk of complications and reducing the costs and barriers associated with diabetes care. Ultimately, I truly hope we’re able to turn the Joslin Diabetes Center into a museum.”

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