Apple on Thursday announced the launch of three new ResearchKit studies on autism, epilepsy and melanoma. Researchers from Duke University, Johns Hopkins and Oregon Health & Science University are launching the studies.
“We’re honored to work with world-class medical institutions and provide them with tools to better understand diseases and ultimately help people lead healthier lives,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president 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.”
ResearchKit is an open-source framework, introduced in 2014, that allows medical researchers and their patients to use the iPhone as a tool to gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using iPhone apps. With ResearchKit, study participants can review an interactive informed consent process, easily complete active tasks or submit survey responses, and choose how their health data is shared with researchers, making contributions to medical research easier than ever
New ResearchKit Studies
Autism: Duke University and Duke Medicine are launching “Autism & Beyond” for parents with concerns about autism and other developmental issues. The Duke team is attempting to use the front-facing camera of the iPhone to detect signs of developmental issues at a much younger age, by measuring a child’s reaction to videos shown on iPhone. Duke is partnering with Peking University in China and other international partners to conduct the study.
Epilepsy: The EpiWatch app developed by Johns Hopkins is the first study of its kind to be conducted with Apple Watch using ResearchKit. The study will test whether the wearable sensors included in Apple Watch can be used to detect the onset and duration of seizures. A custom complication on the Apple watch will provide patients with one-touch access to trigger the custom watch app to capture accelerometer and heart rate sensor data to capture the digital signature of their seizure and send an alert to a loved one.
The app will log all seizures and record the participant’s responsiveness during the event. The app also helps participants manage their disorder by tracking their medication adherence and by screening for side effects, while allowing participants to compare their condition with others in the research study.
Melanoma: Oregon Health & Science University is studying whether digital images taken on an iPhone 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.
Participants will use their iPhone to document mole changes to share them directly with health professionals. Researchers will use the images to help create detection algorithms to use in future studies to potentially screen for melanoma.