uBiome Launches First Microbiome App Using ResearchKit; Initial focus is on Relationship Between Gut Bacteria and Weight Loss
iPhone users can now explore their gut bacteria, and also contribute to research about the relationship between the microbiome and human body weight with the launch of a ground-breaking app launched by the microbiome-testing company uBiome, which uses the ResearchKit framework designed by Apple. The app itself is free, and the first 1,000 users will also qualify for free microbiome testing, usually priced at $89.
Leading microbial genomics startup uBiome today launched the first-ever microbiome app, in tandem with a study that aims to better understand the relationship between weight management and the microbiome. The study uses the ResearchKit framework, designed by Apple, to gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using an iPhone app.
The uBiome app is available as a free download from the App Store. The first 1,000 users to complete the app’s questionnaire and share a link to the app on social media will receive a free uBiome microbiome testing kit, usually priced at $89. After these free kits have been distributed, users of the app will qualify for a 50% discount.
uBiome is the first biotech company to launch a microbiome-focused app on the ResearchKit framework, following in the footsteps of prestigious clinical trailblazers such as Mt. Sinai, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Sage Bionetworks, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Stanford Medicine. From asthma, breast cancer and Parkinson’s disease to diabetes and heart health, existing ResearchKit apps are contributing to scientific understanding of serious health conditions around the world.
“Being able to see how research participants compare to each other is critical to a deeper understanding of human health and the role played by the microbiome,” says Jessica Richman, co-founder and CEO of uBiome. “Participants have already been incredibly eager to contribute to this exciting new branch of science, and we look forward to this opportunity for greater participation.”
uBiome anticipates rapid adoption of its ResearchKit app. Stanford Medicine, one of the first users of the platform, recruited as many research participants in 24 hours as it usually would in a year, with more than 11,000 people signing up within one day. Nearly 75 percent of mobile subscribers in the United States own smartphones and Health & Fitness is the fastest growing app category.
Dr. Zachary Apte, CTO and co-founder of uBiome, explains that processing microbiome data has only become possible because of the company’s powerful high-throughput DNA sequencing technology. “uBiome’s free iPhone app connects the phone in your pocket to our powerful technology in the lab, enabling users to directly contribute to enhancing human health through better understanding of the human microbiome.”
The human microbiome contains around ten times as many cells as the entire body, and an individual’s bacteria is responsible for between three and six pounds of their weight. To place this in context, an average human brain weighs three pounds. The bacteria, which live in and on the body, play critical roles in human health. Although some kinds of bacteria can be responsible for a host of problems such as autoimmune disorders, diabetes, heart conditions, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and skin conditions, the right types of “friendly bacteria” assist us with digestion and the synthesis of vitamins among other important biological activities.
To download the free uBiome ResearchKit iPhone app visit: https://itunes.apple.com/US/app/id998772157.
Technologists from UCSF, Stanford, and Cambridge launched uBiome in 2012 after a crowd-funding campaign raised over $350,000 from citizen scientists, roughly triple the initial goal. uBiome is now funded by Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, and other leading investors. The company’s mission is to use big data to understand the human microbiome by giving consumers the power to learn about their bodies, perform experiments, and see how current research studies apply to them.
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