Mountain View, Calif – March 21, 2016 – 23andMe today announced a new ResearchKit module that allows researchers to seamlessly integrate genetic information into their app-based studies. ResearchKit, an open source software framework designed by Apple, makes it easy for researchers to create studies for iPhone. The Mount Sinai Asthma Health and Stanford Medicine’s MyHeart Counts apps will be the first to implement the module, enabling more than 1.2 million 23andMe customers to upload their genetic information directly through the apps, following an informed consent process. The 23andMe module is available for ResearchKit developers today.
“This new technology gives researchers a turnkey way to integrate genetics into their studies,” said Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe CEO and co-founder. “This will enable research on a much broader scale. Incorporating genetics into a platform with the reach of ResearchKit will accelerate insights into illness and disease even further.”
The Asthma Health app, co-developed by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and LifeMap Solutions, a subsidiary of BioTime, Inc., enables individuals with asthma to participate in a large-scale medical research study directly from iPhone. The study tracks the pattern of symptoms in individuals and potential triggers for those symptoms. Researchers hope this will offer insight into new ways to personalize asthma treatment. Along with collecting research data, the Asthma Health app is also designed to educate asthma patients, help them with self-monitoring, promote positive behavioral changes, and reinforce adherence to treatment plans according to current asthma guidelines. To date, more than 8,800 individuals have joined the asthma research study in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland – the three countries where the app is currently available.
The MyHeart Counts app developed by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine uses ResearchKit to collect data about physical activity and cardiac risk factors to aid scientists studying the prevention and treatment of heart disease. The Stanford researchers aim to make MyHeart Counts the largest study of measured physical activity and cardiovascular health to date. More than 50,000 users have agreed to participate in the study in the United States, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. The free app enables users to complete tasks and answer surveys from iPhone. Once every three months, participants are asked to monitor one week’s worth of physical activity, complete a 6-minute walk fitness test if they are able to, and enter their risk-factor information. The app also delivers a comprehensive summary of each user’s heart health and areas for improvement. LifeMap Solutions is helping Stanford integrate the 23andMe module.
Through the new module, any 23andMe customer who participates in either the Asthma Health research study or the MyHeart Counts study will be able to easily contribute their genetic data after completing a simple informed consent process in the apps.
Another feature of the 23andMe module will allow interested researchers who are using the ResearchKit platform to expand the collection of genetic data for their studies beyond current 23andMe customers. Researchers could choose to offer genotyping services to their study participants through 23andMe, with the services being funded by the researchers. Participants will then have access to the full 23andMe service, and researchers will have a simple, low cost way to incorporate genetic data into their studies.