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Protection, control and monetization of genomic data with blockchain technology Technology

Revisit existing network topologies in order to lay the foundation for a safer future for people's data.

Blockchain and other Web3 technologies, particularly in the last two years, have become important as solutions for a myriad of long-standing problems. In fact, the innovators of the flourishing sector have already started to apply the technology in order to optimize, make secure and make a series of processes more transparent. Where are these the most significant? In the realm of data security.

We are contributing to an infrastructure that, sooner or later, will produce potentially catastrophic consequences. On the one hand, we are constantly developing new software and devices designed to manage and analyze data points related to a myriad of activities of a given individual, from financial and identity information to health and purchasing preferences. On the other hand, we are filing and processing these data in incredibly insecure environments.

If there is one thing certain, it is that the standalone centralized database model that has been the standard for decades is problematic and requires significant revision. Too often, convenience is a priority at the expense of security. Even if an individual has no qualms about the lack of privacy caused by the asymmetry of total trust in data keepers, he should be absolutely worried with the security risks that this creates.

The threat of data breaches should not be underestimated. It is time to accept the reality that no entirely centralized data silo is safe. Just look at recent events: companies like Facebook and Google+ have suffered critical violations that have exposed user data. It is by no means an anomaly, but rather an addition to the ever-increasing sequence of data loss occurring (both by malice and incompetence on the part of the custodian). It is crucial to move forward that these databases are phased out or at least strengthened with robust cryptography or hybrid models that incorporate decentralized protocols to ensure greater security.

With the growing popularity of mHealth applications, biometrics and online genetic testing, it is more important than ever to adopt much safer systems, not wanting to see another event like the recent Aadhaar, where hackers were able to falsify credentials access to access a wide range of personal information. This should also raise questions concerning the depositary's ability to sell such data to third parties.

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Fortunately, we have the technology to cancel years of imperfect database architecture – blockchain. Where a regular database takes information from many and stores it in a single instance, controlled by a part, a blockchain (or distributed ledger) exploits cryptography and a distributed network topology to link the peers directly to the one with l & # 39; other. Each participant keeps a copy of the ledger, synchronizing it with the peers as new entries are added.

Not only does this robust protocol preserve the integrity of the data stored on it (no part controls the ledger), but it also allows users to remain completely independent of the information they store in the digital realm, with a heavy cryptography clearly defining of the property. Naturally, the built-in mechanisms allow granular control, so it is possible to grant permissions to certain parts or to respect the set parameters.

In the field of precision medicine, the blockchain offer is very valuable. Big Data are predicted for the turbocharger efforts in the field and are already taking giant steps in the training of machine learning algorithms that can analyze genomic information and return results. Obviously, the more data is available, the more accurate the information will be generated.

Integrated in functionality a blockchain network is the ability to issue tokens that provide utility. Combined with a distributed storage medium anchored in the blockchain, this presents some interesting options for users to control and monetize their genomic data and other health data, all contributing to research in various fields of medicine – both for clinical trials, pharmaceutical development o formation number of algorithms. You can establish smart contracts (untrusted and self-executable code bits) to automatically grant access to pieces of anonymous genomic data once an affected institution pays a necessary amount of data in it.

Large data sets are essential for medical discoveries. With an ecosystem of interoperable platforms based on blockchain and incentive sharing, researchers, healthcare providers and companies gain access to genetic information specific to the region they would otherwise not be aware of, helping them in their quest to deliver precision medications at the forefront and improve the quality of predictive techniques for the early identification of diseases, rewarding donors at the same time.

Dr Axel Schumacher, founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Shivom, has over 25 years of leadership experience in research and development in genomics, epigenetics, biomarker discovery, bio-IT, aging and longevity. He is the author of the "Blockchain & Healthcare Strategy Guide". Axel is also a member of the Blockchain Research Institute in Toronto. He holds a Ph.D. in Human Genetics at the University of Cologne.

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