New App Makes Smartphone a Secure DNA Data Bank

Likening DNA data to the importance of keeping secure one’s financial data and other personal identification information, researchers at the University of California at Irvine say smartphone apps can and should be trusted to safeguard and access DNA information.

To that end, the group has engineered a new smartphone app capable of securely storing critical DNA info on one’s mobile device. It’s a development some claim could advance healthcare technology and treatment expedience to a significant degree.

“Imagine you’re on a first date,” says Gene Tsudik, UC Irvine professor of computer science, demonstrating the new app’s potential. “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. Or you might be able to estimate the odds of your future children being born with something like Down syndrome.”

Tsudik and others at the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences have dubbed the app GenoDroid and say it could also be used for secure paternity tests, customized cancer-fighting drugs and more.

“A virtual treasure trove of frighteningly personal and sensitive information is contained in one’s genome,” he stated in writing to the Association for Computing Machinery. “Our protocols only yield the test results and do not disclose individuals’ genomic information.”

Tsudik and his associates believe that GenoDroid holds enormous promise in the realm of highly personalized medicine, particularly in light of its ability to give individuals important information quickly and without great expense.

To read more about the development at UCI’s newsroom, click here.

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