University of California, Irvine researchers have developed GenoDroid, a genomic application that conducts real-time paternity tests and could be used in personalized medicine. GenoDroid relies on encryption techniques to preserve the privacy of people's DNA.
The system "shows that today it's practical to run privacy-preserving genomic applications [and] operations, on modern smartphones--these ubiquitous personal devices," says Irvine professor Gene Tsudik.
The researchers tested the application with publicly available genomic data and found that it can determine in less than a second whether one person is the father of another.
"The paternity test app compares the lengths of specific DNA segments from two individuals to determine how many of them match in the two samples," Tsudik says.
The program uses a double-blind technique that only indicates whether the DNA is a match or not, and does not reveal any other information about the DNA.
The researchers note that GenoDroid currently is limited to a quick paternity test, but they say it could be expanded when DNA digitization becomes more common. "Privacy of genomic information is really, really important," Tsudik says. "It is possible to get privacy and still do these kinds of genomic operations."
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