UCI Develops App That Stores DNA Info on Smartphones

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IRVINE, Calif. — Computer scientists at UC Irvine have developed an app that stores encrypted segments of DNA information on smartphones, giving way to countless possible medical and social uses.

Developers say the app, called GenoDroid, could be used to produce instant medical diagnoses, paternity tests or even help predict what a couples future children would look like.

“It essentially does a paternity test. It allows two people, each with their smartphones, to essentially sit together and run this application and within seconds it will tell them if one is the father of the other,” said Professor Gene Tsudik, who helped develop the app.

The scientists say that due to the memory limitation of current smartphones, only relevant segments of a person’s DNA can be stored; however, they expect technology to catch up in three to four years to allow the storage of complete genome.

The scientists say they have put an emphasis on privacy and security, encrypting the digital DNA information and making it possible for “double blind” exchanges between doctors and patients with only test results being visible.

“That’s it, you find out the test results, but nothing else.”

They say the app fits in with the idea of “personalized medicine,” which tailors treatment for individual patients based on their genetics.

Beyond medicine, scientists say GenoDroid can be used by people to compare genes to determine distant family relations or paternity tests.

A “toy” version of the app is available online.

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