New Scripps ResearchKit app uses 23andMe data to predict heart disease risk

By Tom Sullivan
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The Scripps Research Institute on Wednesday announced a new smartphone app that can calculate a user’s risk of heart disease.

Hospitals will want to keep an eye on the research study that Scripps conducts about the effectiveness of giving patients predictions concerning adverse health events and what impact that could have on influencing healthy behaviors and lifestyle changes.

Scripps MyGeneRank enables users to connect to 23andMe’s API and, using that as well as survey and ResearchKit data, compile a 10-year risk score for a heart attack or other coronary events.

From there, users can make adjustments to behavioral risk factors to understand how changing lifestyle could, in turn, reduce their personal risk of coronary artery disease.

In addition to potentially helping users make such changes, which of course will come down to whether or not patients adhere to those behaviors that lessen risk, the app holds considerable potential in the research realm.

Scripps said it will conduct a study to better understand the impact that giving patients information about their personal risk does or does not ultimately have on changing behaviors to influence known and controllable risk factors.

As a baseline, people who agree to participate in the study will be asked to answer a questionnaire after they see their risk score, followed by another survey six months later to gauge how it influenced everyday health decisions.

Dr. Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, said in statement that combining the MyGeneRank app with Apple ResearchKit and genomic data enables Scripps to guide patients in a unique fashion.

"Not only does participating in the study arm individuals with their own data, but it also gives them the opportunity to participate in new type of research driven by and for patients," Topol said.

MyGeneRank is available via Apple’s App Store for iPads or iPhones. Scripps said that its goal is to offer an Android version in the future and to both extend the risk rating to other diseases and incorporate more personal genetic data services.