Apple, researchers working to offer iPhone owners DNA tests

“Apple is collaborating with U.S. researchers to launch apps that would offer some iPhone owners the chance to get their DNA tested, many of them for the first time, according to people familiar with the plans,” Antonio Regalado reports for MIT Technology Review.

“‘Apple launched ResearchKit and got a fantastic response. The obvious next thing is to collect DNA,’ says Gholson Lyon, a geneticist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, who isn’t involved with the studies,” Regalado reports. “Nudging iPhone owners to submit DNA samples to researchers would thrust Apple’s devices into the center of a widening battle for genetic information. Universities, large technology companies like Google, direct-to-consumer labs, and even the U.S. government are all trying to amass mega-databases of gene information to uncover clues about the causes of disease.”

“Apple isn’t going to directly collect or test DNA itself. That will be done by academic partners. The data would be maintained by scientists in a computing cloud, but certain findings could appear directly on consumers’ iPhones as well. Eventually, it’s even possible consumers might swipe to share “my genes” as easily as they do their location.,” Regalado reports. “One of these people said the DNA-app studies could still be cancelled, but another said Apple wants the apps ready for the company’s worldwide developers’ conference, to be held in June in San Francisco.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The vast net that Apple can cast can hopefully really make a difference in medical research. Talk about putting a ding in the universe!

Related articles:
Apple announces ResearchKit available today to medical researchers – April 14, 2015
Apple and IBM expand partnership to help transform medical research – April 13, 2015
Why Apple’s ResearchKit signals a golden age for health care – March 28, 2015
ResearchKit: The inside story of how Apple’s revolutionary medical research platform was born – March 19, 2015
Apple’s open source ResearchKit will change the world for the better – March 9, 2015
Apple debuts ResearchKit, giving medical researchers the tools to revolutionize medical studies – March 9, 2015

17 Comments

    1. I used Family Tree DNA, 1445 North Loop West, 820, Houston, TX, 77008. They work with the National Geographic in a family history context. You have to pay but get the best test or you’ll be revisiting.

      I certainly would not let Gaagle have my DNA for any reason.

  1. Just another grasp by big brother. Just think they can only force you give DNA if you’ve been convicted of a crime, now they want you to give it up voluntarily to go into the database.

  2. WTFO! At what point do they decide who can have children based upon their DNA profile. Who gets insurance, or more importantly doesn’t get insurance because it would be better for the less desirables to die off and keep the herd stronger. It’s shades of “A Brave New World”.

    1. I think you’re being somewhat alarmist there, but I do think that the insurance implications are worth considering.

      For instance, insurance companies do not insist that customers take an HIV test, but many ask customers if they have had an HIV test and if so, they demand to see the result. It’s not much of a leap to extend that principle to asking whether you’ve had a DNA test and then insisting on the results being shared.

      From their point of view, if you take a test which can warn you of the likelyhood of getting a particular condition and they aren’t given that information, you are distorting the calculations at the core of their business model. On the other hand, if you take no test, then you don’t have any additional information to use to influence your decision to insure, so their business model relies on statistics, just as it traditionally has done.

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