Apple it seems now plans to step into the genetics business, claims a report from Technology Review. The report stated that the company is negotiating terms with researchers for two different ResearchKit apps that will gather and study genetic data.
Apple not to keep any data
With the collaboration, Apple will move a step ahead in medical research software, which provides an exciting new platform for genetic research. The Technology Review report suggests that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is looking to announce studies at WWDC in June.
Similar to previous studies, this time Apple will not keep samples and will not be able to access any results, says the report. The sole purpose of ResearchKit will be to guide the process and coordinate subjects across studies.
Citing a source with first-hand information of the plan, the report says that the company’s long-term goal is to enable individuals to show and share DNA information with different recipients such as organizers of scientific studies. As of now, there is no information from Apple about the study.
Some doubt about the data set collected
A DNA test is simply a spit test that contains the most important portions of the subject’s genome, similar to the service offered by 23andMe. Professional doctors will be in charge of all the ResearchKit tests and subject to approval from internal ethics review boards. Thereafter, ResearchKit could pave the way for sharing between studies, thus doing away with the need of subjects giving their saliva samples again for re-testing.
Some researchers are concerned about the accuracy of ResearchKit in gathering samples because of the inherent bias in depending on subjects with the iPhones. If the data is shared, then it can even increase the chance of selection bias as researchers will come to depend on the easily available pool of subjects that have been gathered through Apple tools. However, with the help of the iPhone, researchers will find subjects easily compared to using other traditional methods. In March, researchers at Genes For Good tried to gather subjects over Facebook by building an app that used the social networking platform to recruit and sign subjects up for the test.