Shivom Partners With Lifebit

Blockchain genomics pioneer and AI data analysis firm will provide pharmaceutical organisations and life science users with comprehensive reporting through a library of pipelines

London, United Kingdom – 11 December 2018 – Shivom, the blockchain genomics platform that is powering personalized healthcare, has partnered with Lifebit, the AI-powered DNA-analysis firm, to give users unprecedented reporting capabilities for DNA data analysis.

The partnership will mean that immediate Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) analysis is possible, with no specialist knowledge or in-house data scientist required. It also means that users can access a library of pipelines (ready built softwares that are used for analysis) and an AI-powered toolkit for analysing the data in a way that is far more scalable than other solutions.

Another aspect that makes the Shivom platform superior to other genomics platforms is that it will give pharmaceutical organisations and life science users the ability to access real-time analysis whenever they need it with no waiting time, no application process for accessing the data and deadlines or cut off dates that restrict their access.

“Through this partnership with Lifebit, we are providing enterprise users with the tools they need to find the right patients for their clinical trials more easily and more accurately than is possible through other solutions. Not only that, it brings AI into GWAS analysis in a way that hasn’t been seen before,” said Dr Axel Schumacher, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific of Shivom.

The use of genomics platforms to improve rare disease treatment has increased in recent months, with 23andMe partnering with GlaxoSmithKline to develop drugs for Parkinson’s. However, the Shivom Lifebit partnership demonstrates a major leap forward in this area because it adds AI and Machine Learning capabilities to the identification of potential patients.

To do this, users will be able to access a library of pipelines within the Shivom platform. These include preset Shivom pipelines, those created through open source software and any that an enterprise chooses to develop using Github and DOCKER services.

“Our partnership with Shivom will allow us to combine unique datasets with a level of analysis automation and insight generation that has never been seen before on a genomics platform,” said Dr. Maria Chatzou, co-founder and CEO of Lifebit. “In this way, scientists and doctors will be able to get all the benefits of this rich database without the need to rely on a data scientist for help. On the other hand, still ensuring that the individuals that have provided data to Shivom are given a level of security and control only a state-of-art blockchain technology can offer.”

The partnership with Lifebit comes with the Shivom platform having already been released in alpha. The full launch of the platform is expected in Q1 2019.

-ends-

Media Contact:
Frances Wells
Cryptoland PR
E: frances@cryptolandpr.com
US: 866–586–5603
UK: +44 020 3908 5686

About Shivom:
Shivom is powering the next era of genomics through blockchain technology – protecting identity, personalizing healthcare and transforming lives. For the first time ever, a precision medicine ecosystem will offer an open web-marketplace for other providers to add not only genomics information, but also analytics and associated apps and services to drive personalized medicine. Shivom intends to extend its services to form a global network of associated laboratories and research centres, as well as genetic counsellors and other relevant services.  For further information, please visit: https://shivom.io/

About Lifebit
Lifebit is building a cloud-based cognitive system that can reason about DNA data like humans do. This offers researchers/R&D professionals, and their corresponding organisations (ie. pharmas), a highly scalable, modular and reproducible system that automates the analysis processes, learns from the data and provides actionable insights. For further information, please visit: https://lifebit.ai

World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Shivom is helping to make diseases like Alzheimer’s a thing of the past. By creating a secure platform for the storage and sharing of genomic data, Shivom is transforming the precision medicine of tomorrow by allowing researchers and pharmaceutical R&D pipelines access to vital genomic data today. This type of data can help determine an individual’s predisposition to certain diseases, among them Alzheimer’s, and even help in the development of future preventatives and cures.

Shivom’s Chief Scientific Officer, Axel Schumacher published the first proof of whole-genome epigenetic abnormalities in late-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. His report specified that epigenetic drift, or change, that occurs with age may put people at higher risk for developing the disease. The findings suggest that epigenetic drift may be an important driving force in AD pathology and raise the tantalizing question of whether such epigenetic changes could be prevented.

Around the world, 44 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s, a fatal form of dementia. The U.S. is home to 5.5 million of those suffering, among them 200,000 people younger than 65 with early-onset symptoms.

The prevalence of Alzheimer’s increases with each generation, especially as populations live to be older. By 2050, the number of those affected in the U.S. is estimated to quadruple, leaving 14 million with the disease (World Alzheimer Report, 2018).

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, not only are more people getting Alzheimer’s as they age—the disease is becoming deadlier. Between 1999 and 2014, death rates from Alzheimer’s increased 55 percent, and today the disease is the 5th leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2017, caregiving associated with Alzheimer’s cost the U.S. $259 Billion, which is nothing in comparison to the physical and emotional toll the disease takes on its victims and their family members.

Alzheimer’s disease is, paradoxically, unique for both its pervasiveness and its mystery. Despite its ubiquity among U.S. senior citizens, there is still no cure in sight, and much about the disease remains unknown. What clinicians do know is that genetics play a large part in determining an individual’s predisposition to the disease.

The most common gene associated with late-onset Alzheimer’s is the apolipoprotein E (APOE). This gene has three forms: the APOE-e2 variety, which reduces one’s risk for the disease, the APOE-e3 variety, which appears to have no effect on risk, and the APOE-e4 variety or the “Alzheimer’s Gene,” which increases one’s risk.

Every person inherits two APOE genes from their parents—one from their father, and one from their mother. However, inheriting two APOE-e4 genes doesn’t necessarily guarantee that an individual will develop Alzheimer’s. Conversely, some people born without any APOE-e4 genes may also develop the disease. Still, according to a study recently published in Neuron, over 50 percent of Alzheimer’s cases are linked to APOE-e4.

Last year, researchers with the Mayo Clinic also linked APOE-e4 to the newly-termed “Type 3” Diabetes, a form of diabetes in the brain. It’s already well-known that those who suffer from Type 2 Diabetes are more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s due to reduced blood flow and lack of essential nutrients to the brain. Now, it has been discovered that APOE-e4 interferes with brain cells’ ability to use insulin, causing the cells to starve and die.

Still, clinicians don’t generally test for the APOE genotype among late-onset Alzheimer’s patients. Results can be indeterminate, and the disease can usually be diagnosed without genetic testing by that point.

However, testing early-on for APOE-e4 or other mutant genes associated with early-onset Alzheimer’s, like Amyloid precursor protein (APP), Presenilin 1 (PSEN1), and Presenilin 2 (PSEN2), could help determine with some certainty if an individual will develop the disease before the age of 65.

One common characteristic among those with Alzheimer’s are “amyloid plaques,” which are amyloid-beta peptides that build up in the brain and clump together, leading to the death of nerve cells. As these clumps collect, tau protein malfunctions stick together forming neurofibrillary tangles, creating the types of brain abnormalities commonly associated with Alzheimer’s (Mayo Clinic, 2017).

Imagine how much could be learned about Alzheimer’s through the collection of genomic data worldwide. Researchers could identify more of the unknown genetic mutations that cause amyloid plaques, or even isolate an autosomal dominant gene shared by all Alzheimer’s patients, or sets of genes that increase susceptibility to the disease. This could allow for earlier diagnoses, and perhaps, one day, preventative measures or even a cure.

By creating a secure platform where researchers and pharmaceutical R&D pipelines have access to stored genomic data on a massive scale, Shivom hopes to propel treatment for Alzheimer’s forward, incentivizing genomic donors around the globe to contribute their data toward a future where Alzheimer’s disease is, itself, a forgotten memory.

Shivom Announces Token Buyback Plans

SHIVOM Announces Token Buyback Plans in Preparation for Platform Rollout in 2019
SHIVOM Announces Token Buyback Plans in Preparation for Platform Rollout in 2019

Shivom is pleased to announce its plans to buyback up to 30 million OMX tokens or approximately 5% of current circulating supply in preparation for Shivom’s beta platform release plans in 2019. Beyond simply removing some OMX from current market conditions, Shivom plans to allocate the repurchased OMX tokens exclusively for incentivizing early adopters and driving community engagement on the Shivom platform.

According to Shivom CEO Henry Ines, “the buyback program is part of a multi-prong strategy to accelerate growth of the Shivom ecosystem, onboard new users, drive community awareness and engagement and ultimately to further enhance the value of the Shivom platform and the OMX token ecosystem.”

The repurchased tokens will be utilized to provide incentives and benefits particularly to new users, who upload their existing genomic data file on to Shivom’s secure platform and for those who purchase Shivom-branded kits and services in 2019. The buyback program will commence on 01 November 2018 and is expected to conclude by 31 January 2019.

In the interim period, Shivom also plans to release its ‘alpha’ platform on a limited basis for early testing and feedback purposes. The company in parallel also continues to advance its clinical R&D and pilot projects.

Stay tuned for more exciting announcements!

For more information and latest updates please join our Telegram channel here

National Diabetes Awareness Month: Pinpointing Treatment

National Diabetes Awareness Month Pinpointing Treatment
National Diabetes Awareness Month Pinpointing Treatment

We live in a world where everyone knows someone who has diabetes.  The disease is characterized by the inability to produce or effectively use insulin, it is

rapidly on the rise and becoming one of the leading causes of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately four million people die from complications due to diabetes or high blood glucose levels (WHO, http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes).  The fact that

80 percent of those afflicted are in middle to low-income countries, and cannot

or do not visit a medical professional regularly makes detection, diagnosis and

treatment all the more difficult.  WHO also reports that the number of people with diabetes has quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million people in 2014, with India having the largest population of adult diabetics (74 million, IDF) on the planet.

Diabetes has been manageable for most patients since insulin treatments were first pioneered in the 1920s, but it still remains undiagnosed in 24 to 62 percent of the world’s population. (WHO http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/204871/9789241565257_eng.pdf;jsessionid=6C39C7451F038C0EDDCED7B9528C7FE5?sequence=1).  The risk of not being diagnosed or receiving improper and insufficient treatment is catastrophic, potentially leading to blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.  Undiagnosed cases will be a core issue throughout National Diabetes Month in the United States, where over 30 million people live with the disease (Center for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/features/livingwithdiabetes/index.html) but many more remain undiagnosed and untreated.   

Genomic medicine and next-generation sequencing has seen the fastest progress to date in being able to identify genetic markers for diabetes in patients, and particularly being able to diagnose the most accurate type of diabetes they may have.  For both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, genomic sequencing can reveal many significant risk factors but cannot fully predict the onset of any particular condition. The specific combination of genetic markers correlated to increased risk is complicated, and a few dozen genes of many variants have been found to contribute a risk to one or both forms of the disease. Given this complex relationship, the disease cannot be accurately predicted in either form. Some rarer cases, however, can be predicted from pinpointing just one particular gene, but all of these monogenic forms of diabetes are extremely rare.  

Genomic medicine is also at the heart of managing and treating the disease and can be most effective in being able to inform doctors and patients of the exact type of diabetes that is present.  In both cases, physical activity is important, with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommending being active at least three times a week. For the undiagnosed, being checked for prediabetes (a high blood sugar condition that falls short of the definition of Type 2 diabetes) and healthy weight management are also strong ways to mitigate risk factors. For those who are diabetic patients, management is key, and balancing a healthy diet and regular blood sugar testing with treatments like insulin can mitigate the risk of the more serious symptoms associated with the disease. Still, symptoms of these risks should still be monitored closely, and a medical professional should be notified if any issue related to the patient’s diabetes arises.

The specific relationship between the human genome and all forms of diabetes is a lively field of study, one that could lead to a breakthrough on par with that of Banting and Best’s first insulin treatments. One such opportunity is in India, where Project Shivom has partnered with Genetic Technologies Limited on a pilot program meant to find a genomic answer for the nation’s unusually high rate of Type 2 diabetes. See here for more about how we’re using blockchain to combat Type 2 diabetes in India. (LINK: https://medium.com/projectshivom/blockchain-to-combat-type-2-diabetes-epidemic-in-india-1856f460bac5).

Blockchain to Combat Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic in India

Blockchain to Combat Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic in India
Blockchain to Combat Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic in India

Genomics pioneer Shivom hopes to transform diagnosis and treatment of a disease that’s pervasive in the country

London, UK — 25 September 2018: A pioneering diabetes pilot to collect, sequence and analyze DNA in India, with the aim of using the data for improved diagnosis and treatment of a disease that is devastating the country.

Genomics and precision medicine startup Shivom is working with diagnostic partner Genetic Technologies Limited (GTG; ASX:GTG; NASDAQ:GENE) with the goal of finding unique genetic markers specific to Indian subpopulations that may help explain why the country has one of the highest rising prevalences of the type 2 diabetes in the world. Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterised by elevated levels of blood glucose. Over time it leads to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.

Incidences of type 2 diabetes in India have more than quadrupled in 35 years, with communities developing the disease at younger ages and at lower body weights than other populations. According to the World health Organization, around 72 million Indians have the disease.

The ground-breaking pilot involves thousands of patients and will start in the south-eastern state of Andhra Pradesh — some of whom have already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and control participants who don’t have the disease.

The process will involve collecting saliva samples of the patients from which DNA will be extracted, analyzed and secured on Shivom’s blockchain-based genomics datahub. Shivom’s partner — diagnostics leader Genetic Technologies Limited — will help analyze the collected anonymous genomic-samples and data with the goal of developing a diagnostic SNP panel specific to the Indian population.

The pilot to help combat this epidemic in India, has caught the interest of U.S. TV. It’s launch and progress is being documented as part of the CNBC show, Advancements presented by actor Ted Danson.

Secure and anonymized

Patients’ data will remain absolutely confidential and secure on Shivom’s blockchain-based genomics datahub. However it will be easily shareable in anonymized form and interoperable across technological boundaries.

The patients will have control of their data at all time and can withdraw it from the database when they choose to. Participants are expected to receive health insights and benefits. In the future, they will have the option to be compensated for its use in trials.

Dr. Axel Schumacher, founding member and Chief Scientific Officer of Shivom, said: “Shivom and the province of Andhra Pradesh are working to usher in a new era of precision medicine that successfully leverages state-of-the-art technologies, latest scientific advancements in genomics and new economic models, something we have never seen before.

“These have the potential to revolutionize the way healthcare pilots are performed, empowering all people to better manage their wellness, avoid diabetes, and to be stakeholders in the future of healthcare.”

Recently, Shivom also announced a partnership with EMQT, working together to collect data on Sickle Cell Disease in Nigeria, Africa. Such partnerships are the building blocks in gathering diverse patient data in the global healthcare community and as securely as possible.

Organizations operating in the health and related sectors will be able to access information contained in Shivom’s data-hub once an individual chooses to release their DNA data.

-ends-

Media Contact:
Sophie Smithers
Cryptoland PR
E: sophie@cryptolandpr.com
US: 866–586–5603
UK: +44 (0) 203 908 5565

About Shivom:
Shivom is a leading healthcare technology company focused on developing the world’s largest precision medicine data hub and healthcare services platform powered by blockchain technology. By leveraging the latest advancements in genomics, cryptography and cutting-edge machine learning algorithms, Shivom aims to democratize genomic sequencing in-order to provide individuals with a secure platform that automates their health and wellness.

To-date, Shivom has established multiple global relationships with blockchain companies such as SingularityNET, Spherity and Ocean Protocol to publicly-traded diagnostics companies and governments such as GTG Labs and the Government of the Indian State of Andhra Pradesh.

For more information, please visit: https://shivom.io/

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A Look at the BRCA Gene

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A Look at the BRCA Gene
Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A Look at the BRCA Gene

As October is the month of Breast Cancer Awareness, we thought it a good idea to examine the BRCA genes in more detail, given our area of focus. In case you missed it, Shivom recently announced its partnership with Genetic Technologies Limited, in the aim of improving the methods for predicting the presence of cancer (and subsequently preventing it) with Big Data analysis of individuals’ genes.

“We believe blockchain technology will open up markets to make it much more efficient to catch many more users and practitioners. Not only that, by using the Shivom platform to its full potential, we will also be able to access the benefits of research in collaboration with other personalized healthcare organisations,” commented Dr Paul Kasian, Chairman & Interim CEO of GTG.

Research on breast cancer is perhaps one of the most important medical pursuits of our era. The disease is the second leading cause of death in women, with one in eight being diagnosed in their lifetime (men can also be affected, though it’s a much rarer occurrence).

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the genes linked to the odds that someone develops the cancer. Contrary to popular belief, these genes are beneficial to individuals, and normally prevent the spread of cancer by suppressing tumours. Unfortunately, problems arise when the pair mutate (and consequently, no longer function as intended). Of those affected by a mutation, 55–65% with the BRCA1 mutation and 45% with the BRCA2 mutation will develop cancer by the age of 70. This is all too common. It’s something that, collectively, we need to better understand in order to actively combat and reduce incidences.

There’s some very good work underway already, and we’re eager to meaningfully contribute to the efforts. We’re firm believers in the power of data — specifically, the genomic information of individuals around the world. DNA holds troves of secrets that, once unlocked, could shed some light on some of the medical questions that have plagued us for centuries. In the age of artificial intelligence, data is fuel for building powerful models for prediction and further analysis. It’s important to ensure the pool is as large as possible to drive accurate results.

Blockchain protocols are the perfect chassis for building secure storage mediums for individuals, whilst also allowing them to share it with given parties — whether research institutions or companies operating in the medical field. It would offer them the ability to simply grant access outright, or to leverage a fee to ensure they’re remunerated for their contribution. Moreover, the nature of the tech is that it can reach even the most remote regions, granting researchers access to a much larger and diverse sample size.

In light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s important to remember what can be achieved with the technologies we have at our disposition. A key priority for all working with blockchain technology should be deploying it for the benefit of individuals globally — for us, that’s the logging, understanding and prevention of life-threatening diseases.

If you’d like to donate to the Breast Cancer Foundation, you can do so here.

Shivom’s Pact with Social Impact

Shivom’s Pact with Social Impact
Shivom’s Pact with Social Impact

We know the ability to collect and analyze a person’s DNA to identify and potentially treat inherited medical conditions is a relatively recent phenomenon in the spectrum of medical history. While genomic science and research (which represents the more complex interaction of genes and the environment vs. study of particular genes alone) is now at full-speed, ethical concerns and issues have followed a parallel track. As the field advanced, many experts inside and out of the scientific community have questioned how genetic data would be used and whether it would adequately inform the medical community towards the best ends possible for patients. For all intents, the community has accepted that genomic medicine can exponentially improve human health, but the conversation about its social impact continues.

In 2016, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced it would offer four new grants specifically to study the ethical, legal and social impact of genomic sciences through the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Center for Excellence. “The projects will examine the use of genomic information in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases; genomic information privacy; communication about prenatal and newborn genomic testing results; and the impact of genomics in American Indian and Alaskan Native communities” in the United States. When you widen the genomic medicine lens globally, the issues become even more complex, bringing socioeconomics, politics and culture into the picture. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized the intersection of global health and genomic medicine since the 1950s (Gibbon, Kilshaw & Faulkner, 2017), and now reports that low to middle income countries account for 92 per cent of global burden of disease.

In part, concerns around genomic medicine globally involve how and where data is collected, how it is analyzed, and also how it contributes to prevention and treatment in equal measure across global communities. One step further is the core question of ownership — does the medical community or individual own the DNA data collected? Privacy concerns discourage contributors to the data pool, methods of generating this information tend to draw from limited populations, and weak compensation plans keep those intrigued from participating at all. These questions and concerns have helped shape Shivom’s mission of creating secure storage and collection of DNA data and giving data donors the absolute control to share their information with the global healthcare community. It is with well-established ethical and social issues in mind that Shivom aims its programs toward the advancement of global healthcare, applying its technology towards secure analysis of big data.

To create a truly positive impact on global health, you need to have access to big data. However, data samples are not created equal, and even many large sample pools do not contain significant contributions from under-represented communities that have a high incidence of a particular disease. This lack of data leaves these groups out of the equation, and by extent, leaves the problem unsolvable. To address this challenge, Shivom has begun the process of collecting samples of the most diverse data available by reaching some of the most remote areas of the world, particularly focusing on previously underrepresented populations. In more technologically advanced and developed societies, people can upload their own data on our platform. Ultimately, more DNA data leads to better biomarkers of disease, which creates more effective drugs for a wider range of patients and successful clinical trials. Pharmaceutical companies can make use of the DNA sequence sets to drive their R&D pipelines and develop successful and unique drugs based on individual genetic backgrounds.

By combining voluntary, in-the-field data collection with innovative technology and global focus, Shivom is committed to fulfilling its mission of advancing global healthcare in a socially responsible way. Reaching underrepresented communities, particularly many of those that make up the majority of global burden of disease is one of our top goals. We think it’s important to allow larger groups across socioeconomic categories to contribute and control their data because we believe that the positive social implications outweigh the negative — whether that be regarding the secure storage of data collected, the ethical use of data towards medical breakthroughs or simply an individual and physician’s knowledge of DNA markers that help inform them of the best prevention methods for certain medical conditions. Read more about the NIH’s take on the impacts of genomic medicine on global health.

Rounding Out 2018, Project Shivom Goes Into High Gear

Rounding Out 2018, Project Shivom Goes Into High Gear
Rounding Out 2018, Project Shivom Goes Into High Gear

As we enter the home stretch of 2018, Project Shivom celebrates an historic and successful ICO, expansion of our token exchange across four cryptocurrency platforms, and a restructured company leadership now helmed by CEO Henry Ines. Next, we look forward to exciting partnerships and projects that will help us fulfill our mission to protect patient identity, personalize healthcare and transform lives around the world. We are on the march to a new era in genomic science and precision medicine, from detection to delivery and anchored by unprecedented privacy.

One of the key challenges of successfully applying precision medicine in practice is the ability to properly integrate and interpret large amounts of genomic data to an accurate treatment. Of course, that involves both effective front-end collection of diverse data sets and then even more precise back-end analysis and application. The ability to properly interpret data is an ongoing challenge, particularly as there are not enough geneticists to do the job or the data that is collected often goes under or unutilized. Picture multiple highways funneling into one or two major roads — without the proper system, vehicles end up creating a bottleneck and then ultimately choose different roads altogether. This is the dissipation effect that prevents a solid connection between genomic and precision medicine. So, this takes time — to get the right people trained to analyze data, to get healthcare professionals to be able to understand and interpret the data, and then to have the right treatments available in a timely manner. During this time, data that is collected is stored — that brings up a whole other set of issues and security being the most significant one.

There is a recognition in the field that any new genomic science technology product must ultimately serve to make the collection to analysis road more effective, secure and able to more precisely connect patients with treatment. Shivom is in the midst of developing a platform that is broad, inclusive and focused on the healthcare needs of both large communities and individuals. As we’ve written previously, our goal is to utilize genomic data to better target individual treatments, alleviate specific diseases with high incidence in regions where it often goes undiagnosed, and improve the quality of healthcare worldwide. Most importantly, we are creating the building blocks to gather the most diverse patient data the global healthcare community has ever seen, and as securely as possible. But, a related focus is bridging the gap between collection and analysis, which we attempt to do with the application of AI technology.

In 2019, Project Shivom will begin sample data collection of sickle-cell disease bearers in Sub-Saharan Africa and those afflicted with type-2 diabetes in India. Both diseases, in which genetics plays a critical role, are ravaging susceptible populations in their respective regions. They are manageable with modern technology, but often go entirely undiagnosed, significantly worsening their impact on the individuals they afflict. Our partnerships will allow us to apply the most advanced, secure technology to collect patient data, sequence it, and analyze it. After we do this, users can share their unique set of genomic information with healthcare professionals and medical researchers. This will not only allow researchers to produce more advanced and affordable treatments, it will help them solve the particular issues that face marginalized communities that would otherwise go unstudied and untreated.

Our partnerships will play an integral role in helping to carry out our mission. In June, Project Shivom introduced two new partnerships that will help us further fuse blockchain and artificial intelligence to improve the quality of health for global citizens. The first, Our work with SingularityNET, will greatly increase our ability to offer personalized medical analytics by fusing our unmatched supply of data with their vast network of artificial intelligence solutions, allowing the medical world to solve problems with greater speed, certainty, and raw power than ever before. By bringing our powerful blockchain solution together with their potent AI platform, we will be able to combine two cutting edge technologies to provide unmatched possibility.

A second partnership with MeFy will aid us in growing global data sets in developing economies, helping us secure a more diverse database than any other on Earth. This partnership will be particularly valuable in India, where we will working directly with hospitals to gather data. This is just one step in our extended mission to provide access to the ability to draw data within underrepresented communities, contributing directly to our creation of a database that will provide answers not just for those who are already being researched but for communities who until now were criminally under-researched. Combined, the two platforms produce an expanded data hub that can better inform the pharmaceutical, medical and health insurance communities to produce the most targeted, effective patient treatments.

As 2018 nears its final stretch, Shivom is focused on developing their genomic medicine technology to help connect areas that have until now been disconnected and to support the medical research community in creating life-saving breakthroughs. At the end of the day, it’s people and patients who will benefit.

It’s time to take ownership

It’s time to take ownership
It’s time to take ownership

Blockchain can help you control, protect and share your health data — helping you and others live healthier, longer lives

Exciting advances in precision medicine over the past decade should mean you and your family are now receiving advanced levels of healthcare and disease prevention based on your genetic makeup.

Researchers and health professionals across the world should be enjoying access to a vast resource of genomic sequencing data and health records — helping them discover cures and treatments for every type of disease.

However, the reality is far different.

An ocean of data about your health and the health of others is likely to be spread across many databases. You probably have little ability to view or update this data, let alone control who has access to it.

As for genomic data, only a small percentage of people have had theirs sequenced — largely because there isn’t a secure place to hold and leverage it.

Time to take control

This is a tragedy. You should have the opportunity to own your health and DNA data, and to maintain total control over it. You should have up-to-date information about the diseases you are predisposed to. Every few months, your data dashboard should be updated to inform you of the latest insights scientists have about your DNA.

If you know you’re genetically predisposed to osteoporosis, you should be able to proactively take steps to avoid its onset. If you’re aware there is a high chance of being afflicted by a certain type of cancer, you should be regularly tested to ensure you can catch it early.

Health apps and silos

There are many ongoing initiatives across the globe aiming to facilitate the storage and sharing of genomic data, and thereby enable the progress of precision medicine. Health apps based on genomic and other health data are good examples. But they tend to be competing against each other and creating even more data silos.

Meanwhile, a few large businesses hold the monopoly on most genomic data, and make large profits from selling it to third parties, usually without sharing the earnings with the data donor.

This stifles research and innovation and prevents medicine and healthcare moving forward at the pace it should.

You and your doctors are being denied vital knowledge about your health, and brilliant scientists are being denied access to genomic datasets that could help them gather potentially transformational information that could lead to the eradication of diseases.

Cyber attacks

Not only is your future health being compromised by the current system, but your health data is being left vulnerable too. In the wake of major data breaches like those at Yahoo! and Equifax, it’s hard to trust any organisation with sensitive data stored on cloud databases or local servers.

The release on the internet of your data records could have huge implications on your personal relationships, your future employment, your health insurance and your general wellbeing. Cyber criminals know this, so medical data will increasingly be targeted to leverage money from health organisations and patients themselves.

It’s no wonder few people are largely unwilling to map out their DNA and risk this data being spread across the internet.

A blockchain solution

But blockchain-based technology could be the solution everyone is waiting for.

Its distributed ledger technology removes the vulnerabilities associated with cloud databases. This means it would be safe to store even the most sensitive DNA and healthcare data on the blockchain, without fear of it being stolen or misused in a cyber attack.

A centralized health data hub built on the blockchain could let you maintain full ownership of this data, allowing you to share it with health professionals.

Let’s imagine you’re visiting a specialist doctor for a consultation and tests. She would just need a laptop or mobile device to access your health data in the ecosystem — using a private key (in other words a temporary password) supplied by you. At no time would the data be stored in her own computer or cloud database. And she would only have access to your data while you were under her care.

If you wanted to share the data with a research firm, you could give them access to your data in anonymised form for a certain period, and perhaps receive a payment in exchange.

A new ecosystem

Healthcare and wellness providers such as clinics, pharmaceuticals, research organizations, governments, patient-support groups and insurance companies could join an ecosystem built around this blockchain technology.

They would no longer have to compete with each other to gather data. It would be there for them all to use — for example, to boost clinical trials or facilitate drug research and development. This data could be easily sharable and interoperable across technological, geographic, jurisdictional, and professional boundaries.

Sharing data

Such a system could offer patients access to applications that leverage their data and enhance their wellbeing and health — for example, nutritional and fitness advice, treatment plans, genealogy, disease predisposition, and lifestyle management.

Looking into the future, as more personalized biological information becomes available, services could be offered that are based not only on genomic data, but also other health, biological, and environmental information, facilitating new insights into disease processes.

This is an exciting time in healthcare. Soon, you’ll have the power to leverage your DNA and health data to live a longer, healthier life, while helping billions of others on the planet.

All the technologies are in place. The world just needs a suitable health data platform.

About the Author

Dr Axel Schumacher who has over 20 years’ experience in the field of genetics; and is the Chief Scientific Officer of blockchain-enabled genomic data-hub startup Shivom. Shivom’s platform aims to be the largest genomic & healthcare data-hub on the planet, allowing the world’s population to have their genome sequenced and securely stored with the help of blockchain technology.

How genetic testing will help personalize your medicine

How genetic testing will help personalize your medicine
How genetic testing will help personalize your medicine

For much of modern medical history, treatment has centered around the average patient. Discovering treatments which work for most people, most of the time has been a necessary starting point. However, treating every patient according to an average is rarely the most effective treatment method and can potentially even cause harm in some cases.

When the U.S air force first designed its planes, it based every measurement of the cockpit — from the shape of the seat, to the height of the windshield, to the distance between seat and pedals — according to the average of dimensions from hundreds of pilots. Nevertheless, unexplainable crashes kept occurring.

A young researcher tasked with studying the conundrum discovered the flaw: no individual is average. By replacing the average-sized designs with new versions that could be adjusted to the individual, the problem was solved. Now we are discovering that the flaw of averages — and the need for personalization — is equally important in medicine.

We now know that certain ethnic groups are more susceptible to genetic conditions and respond differently to treatment. Likewise, women can present with very different symptoms to men for the same disease. Genetic testing moves vastly beyond even these differences — opening up treatment possibilities tailored to each specific individual.

Safer prescription and administration of drugs

Individual genetic makeup can uncover the difference between an effective drug and a severe allergic reaction. The study of how genes affect drug response is known as pharmacogenomics.

Genetic differences can determine which drugs are selected for treatment. One drug, ivacaftor or Kalydeco, is used to treat cystic fibrosis — it’s a first-line treatment, but only for the 5% of CF sufferers who have a specific genetic mutation.

In other cases, genetic testing is used to determine safe dosage levels. Thiopurine drugs are used to treat leukemia but can cause dangerous levels of bone-marrow suppression. The dosage window between effective treatment and toxicity is small. Individuals with a certain TPMT gene mutation are ten times more sensitive and have a ten times smaller window — genetic testing can identify them and protect them from these toxic side-effects.

Advanced cancer treatments

There are over 100 types of cancer and over a third of people will be diagnosed with one of them at some point during their lifetime. As the second biggest killer after heart disease, few people escape its effects — either via themselves or by seeing their loved ones affected.

Cancer is caused by mutations within a cell’s DNA which cause it to grow abnormally and uncontrollably. Some of these genetic mutations are caused by exterior damage — sun and smoking, for example — while some are present at birth. Genetic testing of an individual can evaluate their risk of developing certain types of cancer, but tumours can also be genetically tested to determine their makeup.

One of the first examples of personalized medicine, dating back to the 60s, involves a breast cancer hormone therapy known as tamoxifen. It targets estrogen receptors present on the cancer cells. Some breast cancers do not exhibit these receptors — rendering tamoxifen useless in these cases.

Understanding not only the genetic makeup of the patient, but of the tumour itself, has led to new classifications of tumours and new treatment opportunities. Whereas historically cancers have primarily been classified by the point they originate from on the body — lung, breast, pancreas — classifying them according to certain genomic markers opens up new avenues for effective treatment.

Early risk detection and intervention

Almost all disorders — whether genetic or acquired — are most effectively treated with early intervention. Genetic testing can be performed in utero, at birth and later in life.

Some disorders are easier to test for — those directly caused by a single gene or small number of genes, such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anaemia and muscular dystrophy. Where available, early intervention can be started as soon as the diagnosis is made, reducing the severity of the symptoms and improving quality of life.

Other more complex diseases can have dozens of gene variants associated with increased risk — over 90 gene variants have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Genetic testing cannot directly say whether or not an individual will be affected in their lifetime, but high risk individuals can be better informed and prepared.

As modern genomics continues to advance, the progression towards personalized medicine will only accelerate. The potential benefits in terms of treatment efficacy, risk assessment and harm reduction cannot be understated.

The accumulation of this level of personal medical data, however, comes with its own set of challenges. Private genetic information can have significant consequences in the wrong hands — for example, when it comes to health insurance coverage. Patient security from both a technological and legal standpoint needs to be a priority, and here novel technologies such as blockchain can play an important role and create unprecedented value for the precision medicine ecosystem.

Boilerplate:

Shivom combines blockchain, A.I., DNA sequencing & cryptography to enable secure and personalized medicine. The Shivom platform works on principles of collaboration & integrity, allowing people to own, manage and monetize their data. By creating a web-marketplace, a network of genomic counselors, and a not-for-profit drug research unit, Shivom will build a global healthcare ecosystem, reaching even low-income countries where such services have not been previously available.