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ResearchKit picked for autism, epilepsy and melanoma studies

Continues Apple's exploration of its iPhone software as amedical research tool

Apple iPhone ResearchKit

Apple iPhone research software is to be used in new studies into autism, epilepsy and melanoma, furthering the company's claims that ResearchKit can transform smart phones into medical research tools.

The new research studies involve Duke University, Johns Hopkins and Oregon Health & Science University.

Duke University and Duke Medicine's Autism & Beyond study will look at whether the front-facing camera on an iPhone can be used to detect signs of developmental issues at a much younger age.

A ResearchKit enabled app will use novel emotion detection algorithms to measure a child's reaction to videos shown on iPhone.

Ricky Bloomfield, director of mobile technology strategy and assistant professor in internal medicine and paediatrics at Duke University, said: “Autism & Beyond combines well-established screening questionnaires with a new video technology that makes it possible to analyse the emotions of children so that we may one day be able to automate the screening for conditions such as autism and anxiety.

“ResearchKit enables us to put an entire medical study in a single app, reaching so many more people than we ever could before.”

With the EpiWatch app, Johns Hopkins is launching a first of its kind study with Apple Watch to test whether the device's wearable sensors can be used to detect the onset and duration of seizures. 

The app will keep a log of all seizures and the participant's responsiveness during the event, as well as helping participants manage their disorder by tracking their medication adherence and by screening for side effects.

Meanwhile, Oregon Health & Science University's melanoma study will investigate whether images taken on an iPhone camera can be used to learn about mole growth and melanoma risks and could help people better manage skin health by photographing and measuring mole size over time.

Those taking part in the study will be able to document mole changes and share them directly with health professionals, while researchers will be able to capture images from tens of thousands of iPhone users around the globe to help create detection algorithms which can be used in future studies to potentially screen for melanoma.

Jeff Williams, Apple's senior vice president of operations, said: “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.”

ResearchKit helps users to gather data more frequently and more accurately from study participants using iPhone apps. The open source framework also allows those taking part in studies to review an interactive informed consent process, submit survey responses and choose how their health data is shared with researchers. 

Researchers can also, with the user's permission, use ResearchKit to access data from Apple's Health iPhone app, opening up a potential treasure trove of real-time data on weight, blood pressure, glucose levels, and other data measured by third-party devices and apps.

22nd October 2015

From: Research

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