Hot news from the world of Ap­ple

Mac maker’s lat­est in­no­va­tion means health re­searchers will be able to gather more ac­cu­rate data eas­ier and faster

Mac Format - - CONTENTS -

“It has the po­ten­tial to ac­cel­er­ate ev­ery­thing from breast can­cer re­search to drug devel­op­ment”

The big sur­prise at the Ap­ple Watch re­veal was Re­searchKit, an open-source soft­ware frame­work that turns your iPhone into a di­ag­nos­tic tool for med­i­cal and health re­search. Jeff Wil­liams, Ap­ple’s Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent of Op­er­a­tions, said: “Re­searchKit gives the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity ac­cess to a di­verse, global pop­u­la­tion and more ways to col­lect data than ever be­fore”.

The soft­ware makes it eas­ier to re­cruit re­search sub­jects, im­prov­ing the qual­ity of data by en­abling 24/7 data col­lec­tion and shar­ing. Ap­ple worked with sev­eral rep­utable med­i­cal re­search teams in the devel­op­ment of Re­searchKit, which ships this month. There are five ini­tial apps: mPower from the Uni­ver­sity of Rochester, Xuanwu Hos­pi­tal at Cap­i­tal Med­i­cal Uni­ver­sity and Sage Bionet­works looks into Parkin­sons Dis­ease; Di­a­betes app Glu­co­Suc­cess comes from Mas­sachusetts Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal; Heart Dis­ease re­search is via My­Heart Counts from Stan­ford Medicine and the Uni­ver­sity of Ox­ford; Asthma Health from Mount Si­nai Hos­pi­tal and Weill

Cor­nell Med­i­cal Col­lege con­ducts re­search into the breath­ing con­di­tion; and breast can­cer app Share The Jour­ney comes from the Dana-Farber Can­cer In­sti­tute, UCLA School of Public Health, Penn Medicine and Sage Bionet­works.

Health ser­vice

Re­searchKit apps can ac­cess data gath­ered by iOS 8’s Health app that is mea­sured by third­party de­vices and apps – in­for­ma­tion such as weight, blood pres­sure, glu­cose lev­els and asthma in­haler use. Re­searchKit can also re­quest ac­cess to an iPhone’s ac­celerom­e­ter, mi­cro­phone, gy­ro­scope and GPS sen­sors to gather in­for­ma­tion about a per­son’s gait, mo­tor im­pair­ment, fit­ness, speech and mem­ory. And be­cause Re­searchKit is open source, An­droid apps could im­ple­ment Ap­ple’s frame­work.

“Ac­cess to more di­verse pa­tient-re­ported data will help us learn more about long-term af­ter­ef­fects of can­cer treat­ments and pro­vide us with a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the breast can­cer pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence”, says Pa­tri­cia Ganz, Direc­tor of Can­cer Pre­ven­tion and Con­trol Re­search at the Jon­s­son Com­pre­hen­sive Can­cer Cen­ter.

Ini­tial re­sponse seems promis­ing. Stan­ford Re­searchers at­tracted 11,000 iPhone users will­ing to par­tic­i­pate in heart re­search us­ing their Re­searchKit app. “In most med­i­cal stud­ies, 10,000 is a large num­ber, but if we can re­ally hit our mark and have a mil­lion peo­ple down­load it, you can do much larger pop­u­la­tion stud­ies than any­thing that’s been done in the past”, wrote Alan Ye­ung, MD of Stan­ford Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Health. “It has the po­ten­tial to ac­cel­er­ate ev­ery­thing from breast can­cer re­search to drug devel­op­ment”, says Dr Les­lie Saxon, Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor of the USC Cen­ter for Body Com­put­ing.

Doc­tor and med­i­cal blog­ger Mike Sevilla thinks Re­searchKit shows the fu­ture of med­i­cal care: “Imag­ine the syn­ergy that will be cre­ated with the right app tech­nol­ogy, en­gaged pa­tients and in­ter­ac­tive med­i­cal teams”, he says. “Just mind blow­ing… the po­ten­tial here is lim­it­less.”

While UK iPhone users aren’t yet el­i­gi­ble to par­tic­i­pate in re­search through the apps, US iPhone users who wish to take part can down­load the rel­e­vant app and agree to their data be­ing col­lected. Only ap­proved re­searchers are able to ac­cess the data. “You de­cide whether to par­tic­i­pate”, says Jeff Wil­liams, Ap­ple’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of op­er­a­tions. “You de­cide how the data is shared. Ap­ple will not see your data”.

Sen­sors on the back of the Ap­ple Watch can mon­i­tor your heart rate dur­ing a work­out.

Re­searchKit is an open-source frame­work, so stud­ies con­ducted with it can in­clude peo­ple who don’t use Ap­ple de­vices.

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