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Need Your Genome? There's an App For That

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine have developed a mobile app that can store bits of DNA for personalized medicine applications, the school reports.

The app called GenoDroid stores segments of a person's DNA on a mobile device.

"You and the other person could hold up your phones, exchange tiny amounts of encrypted information and be able to determine how much common ancestry you have," Gene Tsudik, a professor of computer science at UCI, says in a statement. "Or you might be able to estimate the odds of your future children being born with something like Down syndrome."

Additionally, the app could be used to secure paternity tests and customize cancer drugs.

GeneDroid leverages the increasing availability and popularity of genomic sequencing. Once someone has received genomic information in electronic form, the data can be loaded onto a mobile device. The app would then encrypt the information.

Mindful of privacy concerns, Tsudik says, "Our protocols only yield the test results and do not disclose individuals' genomic information.

"Maintaining the privacy of your DNA is crucial. Imagine the potential consequences if it were to leak out," he says, adding that "when your bank account or your credit card is compromised, it's painful, but it's recoverable. You can close the account, wipe the slate clean and start over. You cannot change your DNA once it's leaked."

Tsudik has tested the app on the Android platform with publicly available genomic data. He and his colleagues plan to release the next version of it when DNA digitalization becomes commonplace.