BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder have developed a Facebook app to recruit people for a massive study on genetics based out of the University of Michigan.

Analyzing DNA could lead to predicting disease and other health problems, and while most people are familiar with Facebook and its incessant requests to play Candy Crush or Farmville, this app is very different and might be one to try out.

The app is called Genes for Good. Users can find out where they came from, and what may be lurking in their DNA.

“It’s very simple, ‘Have you ever had a heart attack?’ ” said Scott Vrieze, a co-investigator on the research and assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and neuroscience at CU.

CBS4's Mark Taylor talks with CU Professor Scott Vrieze (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Mark Taylor talks with CU Professor Scott Vrieze (credit: CBS)

It’s crowdsourcing for science.

“To try to understand how diseases come about, who stays healthy, who gets sick, and why,” Vrieze said.

Vrieze is the brains behind the first-of-its-kind app.

“We want to grow the number of participants, because that’s only going to make the science move forward,” he said.

Users answer a list of questions about diet, sleep and medical history. Once they answer enough, they’re sent a saliva sample kit.

A saliva kit (credit: CBS)

A saliva kit (credit: CBS)

“We will analyze it and then try to connect it with your health information to understand disease,” Vrieze said.

It’s basically painting a picture of the user’s genome — from where the user’s DNA comes from to what may be lurking in the future.

“If you can identify a gene that’s associated with a disease, that tells you something about the biology of the disease.”

By looking at the differences of each person’s genome, Vrieze says it could lead to medical breakthroughs in prevention, treatment and maybe even cures.

“If you know how something is caused, then you might know where you can intervene.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

While Vrieze says the free service may not be for everyone, he says future generations will reap the benefits of today’s genetic research.

“For research purposes, your information, your health information and your DNA is extremely valuable.”

Genes for Good has been active for only a few days. Its creators say it’s completely anonymous and information is not sold or shared with Facebook.

LINK: Genes for Good on Facebook


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