Apple plans to attack the DNA of the fans

because of the medical privacy regulations, and limited genetic data sharing, genetic research has been struggling.

as a global brand value of the first companies, apple rumors are never necessary, involves the keywords is multifarious, but this may be the first “spit into the plastic cup” and apple together.

, according to people familiar with the apple is developing new plan, working with researchers the United States to launch a application, provide opportunities to some iPhone users, help them to genetic testing, for many users, this was their first time experience so tall.

this app based on apple’s software platform ResearchKit launched in March, can help the hospital or medical research scientists on the iPhone, researchers can use iPhone sensors to collect data, questionnaire survey and investigation.

the first five ResearchKit application inside, there is a known as mPower, able to monitor the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, once the application is launched, raised hundreds of thousands of participants within a few days, fully shows the apple platform popularity and appeal.

“apple launched ResearchKit, excellent response, obviously, the next thing is to collect DNA.” The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory) genetics workers Gholson Lyon told us, but he was not involved in these studies.

push iPhone users provide DNA samples to reference for the researchers, the program will continue for apple devices on the center of the fermentation of genetic information war. Colleges and universities, but also big technology firms such as Google, direct-to-consumer laboratories, and even the U.S. government is trying to expand the genetic information of inventory collection, in an effort to reveal clues, cracking causes of disease.

in the first two research projects, the company will not personally come to collect DNA or DNA test, but the work delivered to the academic partners. Scientists will these data information stored in the cloud computing platform of ResearchKit, but some results may also display on the iphone consumers directly. In the end, consumers may even share “my genes” card, as simple as now share position.

an apple spokesman declined to comment, but people familiar with the matter said the company plans to the ultimate goal is to “allow people to and each recipient, including scientific research organizer, display and sharing DNA information,” the information sharing DNA, and related research, people familiar with the matter, will be anonymous speech, because the company insisted that information confidential.

one of them, according to people familiar with the application of DNA research is still likely to be cancelled, but another person familiar with the matter said apple plans to San Francisco in June “apple worldwide developers conference (DDWC)” announced on the study.

complex data

since last year, the company set out to take measures to make apple products in the field of “digital health” total annihilation. The latest version of the iOS operating system is called a “healthy”, on the application of health data range has more than 70 kinds, from your body weight to how much you’re eating mg of manganese (but so far, has not been involved in genome this area). Apple and IBM also has carried on the cooperation and common development for the application of nurses and hospital, as well as personal medical database.

apple is now collecting DNA, closely involved in the preliminary study. One of the two original research project by the university of California, San Francisco, through genetic testing, and combining the expectant mothers phone collected data to study the cause of premature birth. Another study will be led by the mount sinai hospital in New York.

at the university of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the research leader, computing, head of the institute of health sciences Atul Butte, said “the first five ResearchKit research was very successful, also shows the apple’s extraordinary appeal. I and many others are considering all kinds of test is more complicated.” Butte also pointed out that the genetic causes of preterm birth is still not very clear, he said: “I hope one day we can get more complex than the current data, like DNA or clinical data, I’m looking forward to this day.”

a person to want to join one of the studies, need to agree on the genetic testing, for example, will be sent to apple authorized laboratory saliva samples. Is the first such laboratory equipment technology is very advanced at the university of California, San Francisco, and gene sequencing center at mount sinai hospital.

these planned DNA research, will focus on nearly 100 of medically important pathogenic genes (known as “genome”), rather than a person’s entire genome. The targeted testing, once the size do big, cost no more than a few hundred dollars.

ResearchKit application published up to now, the research involved will be approved by apple, institutional review board will also participate in supervision, this oversight agency for researchers to study volunteers to specification.

ResearchKit program is led by Dr Stephen Fred (Stephen Friend) – once the pharmaceutical company executives, the wisdom, head of the biological network () is now the United States. Where he is now the “wisdom of biological networks is a nonprofit organization, has been advocating open scientific research. Fred for vision is data, can have a platform, let the object of study can take an active part in scientific research, starting in 2013, the company began to actively implement the idea, they have always regarded Fred for medical technology consultant, but the Fred by assistant refused interview requests.

silicon valley company intends to use the application and mobile devices, to transcend Fred called “medical – industry association” (medical – industrial complex). Has long been a problem, once which hospital was revealed personal data collection or research institutions, the agency will immediately notorious, because in many cases, state and federal privacy regulations don’t allow them to do these things. But there is no law to prevent people share their information. So we have the motivation of “authorized patients’ own data collection, as we have always stressed that if people collect their own data, entrust us to study, then the data will soon be able to put to use, both in the field of application fields, technical and scientific research.

Resilience Project Project is American “biological networks (), and the mount sinai hospital together to operate the Project, through this program, they are trying to study why some people from the genes there should be a serious genetic diseases (such as cystic fibrosis), but they are still very healthy. The project had already collected DNA data from more than 500000 people. As of last year, it identified about 20 cases of this unusual case, but Resilience Project Project is very difficult to come into contact with these people, because their DNA is collected anonymously. By iPhone, by contrast, can get a great deal of publicity, through the iPhone app launched recruitment, were also more likely to keep in touch with DNA provider.


by such a role in genetic research, apple will join a small wave of company, the company has been doing a small waves, is trying to provoke interest in their own genetic research. They include genetic research firm, the Open Humans Project and to provide customers complete personal genetic information 23 andme company, before more than 900000 people have bought the company offers of DNA testing services, procedure is very simple, the cost of $99, then send the saliva into the test tube to 23 andme company with respect to OK.

23 andme company is one of the largest DNA data bank, but in order to collect so many data, 23 andme spent nine years brush media attention, and even on the talk show Oprah (Oprah), do not know a lot of effort, this just reached the number today. Apple, by contrast, in the first three months of this year alone sold 60 million iphones, makes the iphone users reached 750 million. This means that, in theory, in ResearchKit platform for DNA research is very efficient, influence is also will be very great.

but DNA data is still difficult to obtain, in some cases, people always are told that only the United States food and drug administration (fda) has the right to manage genetic data.

this year launched a research project at the university of Michigan – Good Genes (Genes) for Good. The study on Facebook application to recruit subjects, and a detailed investigation on their health and habits. In this study, the participants will be offered a saliva collection bags, saliva is submitted, you can get a document containing the information of DNA.

according to the start of the study, a geneticist at the Goncalo Abecasis said, so far, about 4200 people have been applied. Abecasis said that the project will tell people some information about their family tree, but don’t try to predict for health. “Many people are uneasy heart, it is hard to decide what can be used as a part of our research, what is OK in health care.” He said: “you can imagine, a lot of people on how to explain DNA has a good attention to… But what can be appropriate to disclose, it is not clear.”

apple faces a problem is, whether consumers interested in their DNA. So far, most people don’t have genetic data, also lack DNA data interpretation of the commonly used system. “These problems may be very critical in 10 years,” cold spring harbor geneticist at Lyon, said: “but the question is, if you can have a extremely popular killer application, allows users to quickly and easily for DNA interaction.”

some people still have a lot of ideas. Imagine one day, when you show in the pharmacy prescription, can brush a gene directly, once measured drug allergy, immediately get a warning. Or have an application can be accurately calculated, you how close blood relationship with others. But Lyon think now the most urgent is to help the researchers, “they need people to donate DNA,” Lyon explained: “there is a way to stimulate people to do so, that is, by means of mobile applications to carry the study to mobile phones, make people ‘play’.”


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