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Google's Life Sciences is making bandage-sized glucose monitors

Google's Life Sciences is making bandage-sized glucose monitors

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Google's Life Sciences division (which now appears to be a stand-alone Alphabet company) has been working on a number of projects to help people with diabetes. This week, we're learning details about new one: it's going to help build a bandage-sized, cloud-connected sensor to help people monitor their glucose levels. The product is being developed in partnership with DexCom, an established manufacturer of continuous glucose monitoring systems; DexCom will be building the sensors, while Life Sciences will be handling the miniaturization.

DexCom will pay millions for Life Sciences' help

The product that Life Sciences and DexCom hope to create would be pretty impressive. They want the device to be low-cost and disposable, yet small, connected, and able to provide real-time glucose levels. DexCom says its goal is nothing less than creating the new standard for monitoring and doing away with finger-stick testing. It's being designed for use with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. "We're committed to developing new technologies that will help move health care from reactive to proactive," Andrew Conrad, head of Life Sciences, says in a statement.

Another benefit that Life Sciences seems to bring to the table here is Google's data analysis. DexCom says the partnership will allow these devices to better utilize the data they gather in a way that should improve patient outcomes and reduce their costs. The goal of its initial sensors, DexCom says, is to provide people with more "actionable information" about how they can manage diabetes.

The products developed through this partnership will be sold exclusively by DexCom. MobiHealthNews reports that in exchange, DexCom is paying Life Sciences up front with $35 million in stock; an additional $65 million in cash or stock will be paid as the partnership hits specific development milestones; finally, Life Sciences will receive between 5 and 9 percent royalties once the products hit a certain revenue level. DexCom expects the partnership's first product to launch in two to three years, with additional generations to follow.

Life Science's partnership with DexCom is one of two big deals it's made for glucose monitors. Last year, it made a deal with the pharmaceutical company Novartis to commercialize contact lenses that can track glucose levels. These R&D efforts appear to have worked out well for Google. That's likely why, as Steven Levy reports at Backchannel, Life Sciences appears to be among the first beneficiaries of Google's split into Alphabet. Google co-founder Larry Page now refers to Life Sciences as one of Alphabet's many companies; until this week, Life Sciences had been a division within Google X.