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iPhones To Be Used In Autism, Epilepsy And Melanoma ResearchKit Studies

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Apple details three new ResearchKit studies and praises contribution of developers to open source framework

Medical researchers will use iPhones to collect data for new studies into autism, epilepsy and melanoma, which could help improve diagnosis and the care of patients with these conditions.

The studies are part of the latest expansion of Apple’s open source ResearchKit framework, which launched earlier this year, and has so far received contributions from 50 developers.

ResearchKit turns the iPhone into a medical research tool, providing researchers with frequently harvested data from the device’s sensor and Health app, and making it easier for participants to input information and complete surveys. Any data shared requires the consent of the user.

Apple ResearchKit

iOS Health (3)The remote nature of these actions also allows researchers to broaden their sample base across a whole population – not just those close to a medical institution.

“We’re honoured to work with world-class medical institutions and to be able to provide them with tools which ultimately might help our customers lead healthier lives,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior VP of Operations. “In just six months, ResearchKit apps studying everything from asthma and diabetes to Parkinson’s disease, are already providing insights to scientists around the world and more than 100,000 participants are choosing to contribute their data to advance science and medical research.”

The autism study will be led by Duke University and will use the iPhone’s front facing camera to see if signs of developmental issues can be detected at a much earlier age. Images will also be used in the melanoma study led by Oregon Health and Science University, which will see if images can be used to detect the cancer and if any algorithm for automatic screening can be created.

The epilepsy study uses an app for the Apple Watch, developed by Johns Hopkins University, to see if seizures can be detected. A custom complication allows users to summon the app with one touch, and the duration of the seizure is recorded, as is heart rate data. Additionally, an alert is sent to a close friend or family.

Other ongoing ResearchKit projects are tackling asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular diseases and Parkinson’s disease as part of Apple’s focus on health.

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