Apple Wants To Start Testing Your DNA

Mobile AppsMobilitySmartphones
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iPhone maker teaming up with hospitals to launch initial tests using ResearchKit platform

Far from just answering your entertainment and communication need, your iPhone could soon prove a crucial part of identifying potential health issues.

The company is looking to expand the potential of its ResearchKit platform by launching a number of new studies that analyse DNA submitted by its customers, according to sources at the MIT Technology Review.

These reports say that Apple is working with academics to create ResearchKit apps would offer some iPhone owners the chance to get their DNA tested, possibly for the first time, which could help highlight potential health issues.

Doctor, healthcare © Pressmaster, Shutterstock 2014An Apple A Day

However, tests wouldn’t just take DNA directly from users. Apple isn’t going to directly collect or test DNA itself, with this done by academic partners.

The company is planning two initial studies – the first, planned by the University of California, San Francisco, would study causes of premature birth by combining gene tests with other data collected on the phones of expectant mothers, and another, as yet unknown study led by Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

The apps could see the light of day as soon as Apple’s WWDC developer conference in San Francisco next month.

Apple has so far declined to comment on the reports, but one person with knowledge of the plans told MIT that the company’s eventual aim is to “enable the individual to show and share” DNA information with different recipients, including organisers of scientific studies.

DNA databaseGrowing

Apple launched ResearchKit back in March, announcing the platform as a way for iPhone and Apple Watch users to participate in medical and health research using their devices.

The company says the platform will make it easier for researchers to gain information by accessing a device’s accelerometer, microphone, gyroscope and GPS sensors to gain further insights, and allow them to broaden their sample base across a whole population – not just those close to a medical institution.

Users will have to consent to share their data and can choose which information is collected from the Health app, such as weight, blood pressure, glucose levels and asthma inhaler use. Participants can also complete tasks and surveys from within custom applications, so researchers spend less time dealing with paperwork.

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