ResearchKit now includes genetic data

The iPhone's medical research framework, the open-source ResearchKit, has gotten a new upgrade. With it, researchers will be able to incorporate patients' genetic data into their studies in what Apple calls 'seamless, simple and low cost way'.

The upgrade was done by genetic testing company 23andMe.

“The response to ResearchKit has been fantastic. Virtually overnight, many ResearchKit studies became the largest in history and researchers are gaining insights and making discoveries that weren’t possible before,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “Medical researchers around the world continue to use iPhone to transform what we know about complex diseases, and with continued support from the open source community, the opportunities for iPhone in medical research are endless.”

The new tool will be available later this month, the company said in a press release, with The Verge adding that Mount Sinai and Stanford Medicine will be the first developers to use the new tool.

“Collecting this type of information will help researchers determine genomic indicators for specific diseases and conditions,” said Eric Schadt, PhD, the Jean C. and James W. Crystal Professor of Genomics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Founding Director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology.

“Take asthma, for example. ResearchKit is allowing us to study this population more broadly than ever before and through the large amounts of data we’re able to gather from iPhone, we’re understanding how factors like environment, geography and genes influence one’s disease and response to treatment.”

ResearchKit was launched last year as an open-source platform, as a way for researchers to easily include iOS users in their studies.