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Skolkovo scientist says AI and blockchain could accelerate biomedical research

Insilico Medicine has published a peer-review research paper calling for patients to regain control of their personal medical records, and even to profit from them

Nov 27, 2017
The Baltimore-based Insilico Medicine, which specializes in the application of deep learning for drug discovery, produced the paper, titled "Converging blockchain and next-generation artificial intelligence technologies to decentralize and accelerate biomedical research and healthcare" and published in the open-access biomedical journal Oncotarget, in collaboration with scientists from Bitfury Group, a blockchain technology company. The paper proposes a new model to return control over human life data to patients and accelerate biomedical research.

"Most people do not understand what life data they have and how valuable and dangerous this data may be, and do not have any control over how their life data is being used," said Polina Mamoshina, a senior research scientist at Insilico Medicine.

"Policy makers are trying to address this problem by introducing new regulations that make it expensive and difficult for innovators to turn human life data into life-saving products. 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 innovators," she said.

Blockchain technology enables the creation of a distributed and secure ledger of personal data in which patients are in control and own their data. It would also enable the monitoring of access privileges and understanding of who looked at the data. The technology therefore allows for the creation of a data-driven marketplace in which patients can earn tangible rewards for making their data available to the application development community, pharmaceutical and consumer companies and research institutions, the paperís authors say.

"Presently, only a few patients worldwide have comprehensive data sets containing their clinical history combined with the genetic, blood biochemistry and cell count profiles, lifestyle data, drug and supplement use and other data types, because they do not see the value in this data and do not get tested regularly," Insilico Medicine wrote in a press release announcing the paperís publication.

"On the other hand, pharmaceutical and consumer companies alike are willing to pay substantial amounts for the large numbers of personal data records required to train their AI. These funds can be used to subsidize regular testing by patients, uncover new uses for the various data types and develop sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools," the company said.

Alex Zhavoronkov, founder of Insilico Medicine, Inc. and Skolkovo resident Insilico, and one of the paperís authors, believes healthy productive longevity will be the new driver of economic growth.

"Creating an economy around human life data and returning ownership and control over life data to the individual is one of the most important steps towards extending the healthy productive longevity of the global population," he said.

"It is also a very altruistic cause, which may help reduce the gap between the rich and the poor and allow people from all walks of life and geographies to equally profit from their own data," he added.