- The genetics company 23andMe will allow customers to use their iPhones to share genetic data with researchers engaged in medical studies, the company announced on Monday. The collaborative venture will involve Apple, Stanford University, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and LifeMap, an app developer.
- The feature gives medical researchers the ability to gather DNA data along with other information through Apple's ResearchKit platform. However, permission is granted only on a case-by-case basis and participants have to give consent.
- There are two large iPhone based studies which will use DNA data. In the MyHeart Counts study, Stanford researchers are trying to understand the genetic determinants of exercise. The study involves a series of subjective questions about how people feel about exercise or when they are embarking on exercise, and combines that information with genetic data.
This project could empower consumers to gain access to and ultimately leverage information about their personal genetics.
“This new technology gives researchers a turnkey way to integrate genetics into their studies.This will enable research on a much broader scale” said Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe CEO.
The other study, conducted through Mount Sinai's Asthma Health app, will pair DNA data with the patterns and triggers of asthma symptoms. Any 23andMe user can contribute their DNA through the studies' own apps.
Apple's ResearchKit software underpins this new collaborative framework. Launched last year, the software makes it easier to obtain consent while expanding the collection of large-scale data.
However, Apple will not be storing or access the DNA information, according to MIT Technology Review. The information will be hosted on 23andMe servers, potentially adding to its large store of genetic data.