Our Alpha Public Release!

Alpha Public Release
Alpha Public Release

Back in August, we announced that we would be releasing a platform in order for our community to test and give us feedback on the first iteration of our Alpha product.

After onboarding a wealth of new talent and welcoming Henry Ines to the role of CEO, we felt it time to take a step back and reassess our current position. We realised that many of our competitors, both startups in the blockchain space and traditional genetics companies had spent a significant amount of time streamlining their UI/UX and USPs. It became clear to us that we needed to innovate in an area that’s often overlooked – secure storage. In perfecting such a solution, we would be able to offer our community and competitors alike greater freedom and transparency where the storage and sharing of their DNA data is concerned, having a positive knock-on effect on the direct-to-consumer genetic testing industry.

Months of development later, after several scrum meetings and all-nighters, we’re thrilled to unveil to the community the long-awaited Alpha Release!


A Sleek UI/UX Brand Overhaul

Users will also notice that we’ve greatly simplified our sign-up process, stripping it down to three easy steps:

Select whether you’re a consumer or an enterprise user, before adding general account information (name, DOB, country, etc.)

Complete health and wellness information by answering a range of questions (which, in later releases, will not only help us better assess which products we should provide our audience with, but also improve the search function for organisations seeking particular DNA datasets). Of course, the user will be able to specify whether they wish to be ‘discoverable’ in our Enterprise Search feature.

The final step in the sign-up process is adjusting user permissions – you’ll be able to set search, viewing and contact permissions that are linked to DNA data uploaded onto the platform. We’ve implemented toggle functionality to offer users a more granular experience over categories. For instance, they may choose to only make their data searchable and available to academic research teams over governmental organisations.

DNA Upload & Encryption

As aforementioned, we’ve spent countless hours fine-tuning our secure storage feature whilst ensuring newcomers and users of previous genetic testing kits are provided with a seamless experience for securely uploading their data. If you’ve used another testing service previously, all you need is your genetic information to get started – usually, this is stored in a file with a .vcf extension.

Navigate to the MYDNA page and click on ‘Upload’ to select the requisite file from your device. Once selected, it will be encrypted and subsequently stored on the Shivom platform. In successive releases, expect an even simpler process, where logins for sites like 23andMe or Ancestry can be used in order to directly import data.

Additionally, this page allows you to pre-order home testing kits. Select this option to be added to the pre-order list for the kits, which will be shipped in Q1 of 2019.

 

What’s Next?

Shivom will continue iterating on its product and fleshing out our core features – above all, our work is driven with a focus on security and accessibility. In tandem, we’ll launch numerous upgrades to campaign management for enterprise users and our Enterprise Search function (providing granular filters for organisations seeking out specific data sets, i.e. those from specific regions, associated with certain diseases or conditions, etc.).

For users that wish to share their data with researchers or institutes in the medical field (all whilst being remunerated for their participation), we’ll be rolling out the ability to anonymously provide organisations with datasets within a set timeframe, leveraging blockchain-based payments directly into an integrated wallet accessible via Shivom’s web portal.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates on our roadmap, developments and partnerships in the coming weeks. Go ahead and experiment with the Alpha, and be sure to let us know what you like, what could be improved, and what you’d like to see added in the future via the Intercom feature at the bottom right-hand side of the portal.

Until next time,

The Shivom Team

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 is pushing policies for reimbursement of genetic testing

One of the main challenges for the development and implementation of precision medicine is the lack of reimbursement for genetic tests in most countries. There are many examples of clinically useful information available through newly developed genetic tests. While some health insurance plans in the US cover the cost of genetic testing when recommended by a physician, other forms of genome sequencing are usually not included, especially not in the EU and most Asian countries.

Without question, genomic medicine will revolutionize clinical practice in the coming years. As such, it is essential that genetic testing reimbursement processes are improved, particularly for whole-genome sequencing. To change the status-quo, recently, Shivom, together with other entrepreneurs from all over the EU including the Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany, UK, and Hungary joined forces with experts from the healthcare industry, including insurers and policymakers during a policy perspective meeting of the European Commission in The Hague/Netherlands.

https://ideasfrom.eu/value-track-personalised-medicine/

A hot topic of this policy perspective meeting was the reimbursement of genetic tests because uncertain or inadequate reimbursement by public and private payers of genetic tests creates one of the most significant barriers to the development and adoption of precision medicine. We at Shivom think that genome sequencing, in general, should be subject to reimbursement, including direct to consumer (DTC) genetic testing, which enables consumers or patients to access their genetic information directly from a testing company.

Shivom is pushing policies for reimbursement of genetic testing

Dr. Axel Schumacher, CEO of Shivom: “To have access to your DNA sequence may be necessary for many reasons, including for predicting individual predispositions to diseases or conditions, or for preventive, therapeutic, reproductive, or life planning measures. Lack of a positive reimbursement decision disincentivizes patient participation and creates a barrier to the use of modern genomic medicine by authorizing clinicians and patients. As long as a whole genome sequencing test is scientifically valid (of high quality), it should be reimbursed; even more so because it has to be done only once in a person’s life.”

At Shivom, we strongly believe that now is the time to foster a new era of precision medicine through policy changes that empower patients, researchers and healthcare providers to work together toward development of personalized care.

Nugget’s News Features Shivom

One of the most popular YouTube channels on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, Australia’s #1 Nugget’s News names Shivom as one of the biggest projects to lookout for in the near future.

Nugget’s News team recently reviewed Shivom’s model of building the world’s largest DNA datahub around the globe, and its aim of empowering users and DNA donors with full control and power over the information they share.

The full video is available for viewing here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiBvGOOq17E

Nugget’s viewers are introduced to Shivom’s comprehensive offering, including securing DNA and genomic data storage, monetizing and incentivizing DNA data sharing and encrypting DNA information to prevent violations of privacy. Furthermore, the review describes how Shivom will guide the field of precision medicine, carrying out genetic data collection through global studies in developing countries, and transform the future of healthcare globally.

We are extremely grateful to the Nugget’s News team for their positive response to our project, and for featuring us on their channel! This is a great encouragement to the Shivom team to continue reaching for the top in our goal to advance and revolutionize genomics and precision medicine!