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article imageBlockchain technologies could return control of data to patients

By Tim Sandle     Nov 23, 2017 in Science
The focus of blockchain technology has been with supply chains and finance, but the applications are far wider including life science research, like new drug development and the control of patient data.
A life science startup, called Insilico Medicine, based in Baltimore, is exploring how artificial intelligence and deep learning can assist with drug discovery. Recently the company has been exploring the contribute that blockchain technology can make to the sector.
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The blockchain ideas are set out in a paper published in the journal Oncotarget ; the paper, which has been peer reviewed, is titled “Converging blockchain and next-generation artificial intelligence technologies to decentralize and accelerate biomedical research and healthcare.”
Central to the paper is a collaboration between Insilico Medicine and the Bitfury Group, which is a Blockchain technology company. Bitfury work with governments, institutions, and corporations. The paper details an attempt, between the two companies, to assess the value of time and the combination value of personal data in the context of an artificial intelligence processed health data, exchanged on blockchain.
Commenting on why this test case has significant potential for the life sciences sector, researcher Polina Mamoshina said in a communication to Digital Journal: “Most people do not understand what life data they have, how valuable and dangerous this data may be and do not have any control over how their life data is being used.”
She adds: “In this paper we propose a blockchain-enabled solution to help people become aware of and take control over their data and profit from licensing the data to the innovators.”
As to what this means in practice, in the paper the researchers raise new approaches that could be used to appraise and evaluate human life data. This consists of combination-, time- and relationship-value of the data. They move on to present a roadmap for what’s termed a “blockchain-enabled decentralized personal health data ecosystem”. The researchers see this as the basis for enabling novel approaches for drug discovery, biological marker development, and preventative healthcare.
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The advantages of blockchain are a secure and transparent distributed personal data marketplace to meet regulatory expectations (such as those of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and empowering patients by handing the control over personal data, such as medical records, back to the individual patients. This is through a blockchain providing a distributed and secure ledger of personal data.
An added feature is, if patients are so minded, they could exploit a new data-driven marketplace and receive rewards for making their data available to the life science community and pharmaceutical companies.
More about blockchain, Life Science, Research, drug discovery, Medicines
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