The next generation of data-driven healthcare is here

189
SHARES
1.5k
VIEWS

Related articles



In the past 60 years, the life expectancy of newborns has increased by about 20 years – from 52.5 to 72, as of 2018. We have seen an incredible wave of technological innovations at this time: the introduction of the Internet and medicine, breakthroughs and an enhanced understanding of public health initiatives have led to Change the course of human life. And with new technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence on the stage now, we know that more radical transformation is coming. These disruptive technologies pave the way for longer, healthier lives.

To illustrate how healthcare has advanced thanks to these technologies, I’d like to highlight a case study of two unique companies, Insilico Medicine and Longenesis. Together, they showed how the development of AI for medical care has grown along with the rise of blockchain healthcare applications.

Data-driven healthcare

In 2014, longevity creator Alex Zhavoronkov and their company, Insilico Medicine, reached out to me. The company based itself on a simple but radical premise: using artificial intelligence to accelerate drug discovery and development. At the time, the use of AI was still nascent, both in public consciousness and its applications in medicine. But in the seven years since I invested in this company, I’ve used artificial intelligence to completely transform research and development in the treatment sector. Its rapid discovery and development of new treatments is due to the huge amount of data they process in search of the next best treatment. Rich in source and range, these data come from genomic and protein sequences of actual healthcare patients. With dozens of new drug candidates, they demonstrate huge potential in using AI for data-driven healthcare.

However, Insilico’s groundbreaking progress has not been without hurdles. Working with massive amounts of data presented unique challenges in terms of centralization and security. Data in healthcare tends to be scattered and isolated. Each doctor, medical center, and hospital maintains their own cell, and due to privacy regulations, data is usually only shared when necessary for patient care. Access to composite patient data was critical to the success of Insilico’s AI algorithms, and it was not available.

Privacy Technology and Blockchain

In the search for solutions to the security and centralization concerns associated with this type of data, Alex and the team at Insilico Medicine soon discovered blockchain and distributed ledger technology. The immutability of entries on the blockchain and the ability to have multiple decentralized nodes contributing data to a shared ledger has provided a solution to the complex problems associated with patient data. This technology was what they were looking for, but they needed a partner to build it with them. Insilico has formed a joint venture with leading European blockchain company Bitfury (now one of the largest technology startups on the continent) and launched a new company called Longenesis. Longenesis’ goal was clear: to create a blockchain healthcare ecosystem that takes into account the sensitive requirements of health data and the application needs of biotechnology research.

Related: Concerns about data privacy are growing, and blockchain is the answer

Longenesis has designed a blockchain-based environment for stakeholders across the healthcare/biotech industry, including patient organizations, biomedical research groups, research partners and sponsors. The beauty of the Longenesis solution is that there is always a record of consent. When patients agree to share their data for any purpose, there is firm evidence of their permission.

Hospitals and other care institutions are using their first product, Curator, to safely and consistently deliver available data to researchers without compromising patient privacy. This functionality enables researchers to review data sets without compromising the security of patient information. When a researcher or company is interested in using data, the second Engage product from Longenesis provides it. Engage also allows hospitals and researchers to quickly enter patients into new clinical trials and research, and to record ongoing patient consent. Regardless of whether AI is used to analyze new data from a medical trial or “old” data from medical records, patients know this and can decide to consent at their convenience. Longenesis has used this solution in state hospitals, government biobanks, and more. Her work enables AI companies like Insilico Medicine to access massive amounts of data that can be used for AI analysis, leading to more treatment and drug discovery.

Data, blockchain, and human longevity

While I have highlighted two companies here, there are thousands of startups, research institutions, and prominent clinicians who work tirelessly to improve human life. They can all benefit from the unlocked data of the blockchain and the analytic power of artificial intelligence.

The average hospital produces 760 terabytes of data annually, yet 80% of this valuable data is unstructured and unavailable to researchers. It must remain safe, and patients need to provide ongoing consent for its use. This disconnect hinders progress in every aspect of medicine. Pairing blockchain and AI can unlock this data for analysis, facilitate patient consent, track clinical data usage, and more.

Finally

Without the blockchain, AI lacks the ethically sourced and protected biomedical data it needs to find new solutions. Without artificial intelligence, the vast amounts of data protected by the blockchain remain secure but not usable for research. Progress occurs when these innovations work together, just as important public health initiatives have succeeded in decades past thanks to the advent of the World Wide Web. Next, our goal should be to fully bring these technologies to market so that longevity-focused care is accessible to all.

The opinions, ideas and opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Gary Zmodzi She is a Managing Partner of LongeVC, a Swiss and Cyprus-based venture capital firm that accelerates innovative biotech startups and longevity. He is a seasoned business expert and angel investor with several successful exits across biotech and technology companies. He is a longtime supporter and investor in biotechnology companies, including Insilico Medicine, Deep Longevity, and Basepaws.

Author’s note: Both entities, Insilico Medicine and Longenesis, are LongeVC’s portfolio companies focused on longevity.