Apple wants to dissect your genes with the iPhone


Gene testing, coming soon to an iPhone near you. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Gene testing, coming soon to an iPhone near you. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The next big feature for the iPhone might involve a lot of spitting. Apple is planning to launch new Research Kit studies at WWDC in June that will focus on DNA studies, according to a new report, claiming Apple is collaborating with researchers in the U.S. to create two new apps.

The new apps will be based on ResearchKit, Apple’s software platform that helps scientists and hospitals run medical studies on the iPhone. If successful, the new studies could give many iPhone users their first look at their genetic information by sending a ‘spit-kit’ to an Apple-approved laboratory.

MIT’s Technology Review reports that two initial study’s are planed, one being held at an advanced gene-sequencing center at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and the other will be led by Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

By getting iPhone owners to submit DNA samples, Apple would be joining a growing battle in the genetics market. Google already has a large genome project, while other large tech companies and even U.S. government are also trying to get in on the action of creating huge databases of gene information in hopes of finding clues to causes of disease.

The study planned by UCSF will try to determine causes of premature birth by combining gene tests with data from expectant mothers. Rather than looking at a person’s entire genome, the studies will look at 100 or fewer medically important disease genes, and won’t cost more than a few hundred dollars.

Most of the data from Apple’s DNA studies will be maintained by scientists in a the cloud, but you’ll be able to access certain findings from your iPhone too. Who knows, maybe even one day sharing your genetic info will be as easy as sharing a selfie.

Source: Technology Review