The average newborn’s life expectancy has increased by almost 20 years in the last 60 years. It went from 52.5 years ago to 72 years as of 2018. This decade has seen a remarkable surge in technological innovation: The internet, medical breakthroughs, and a better understanding of public health initiatives have all changed the course of human history. We know that more profound transformations are coming with the introduction of new technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence. These disruptive technologies will open the door to longer and healthier lives.
Two companies, Insilico Medicine & Longenesis, are examples of how healthcare has improved thanks to these technologies. They show how blockchain-based healthcare applications have accelerated the development of AI in medical care.
Alex Zhavoronkov, a longevity pioneer, and Insilico Medicine reached out to me in 2014. It was founded on a simple, but profound premise: AI could be used to accelerate drug discovery. AI was still relatively new at the time. It was not well-known or used in medicine. In the seven years that I have invested in this company, AI has completely transformed research and development in therapeutics. The incredible amount of data that they process to find the best treatments is what enables them to quickly discover and develop new therapies. This data is rich in source and range, and comes from actual healthcare patients’ genomic and proteomic sequences. They have demonstrated tremendous potential for using AI to drive data-driven healthcare through dozens of drug candidates.
Insilico’s groundbreaking achievements were not without challenges. The challenges of centralization and security when working with large amounts of data presented unique problems. Healthcare data tends to be dispersed and isolated. Each hospital, doctor and medical center has its own silo. Data is only shared with patients when it is necessary due to privacy regulations. Insilico’s AI algorithms were unable to access synthesized patient data because it was not available.
Privacy and Blockchain tech
Alex and his team from Insilico Medicine discovered blockchain technology and distributed ledger technology while searching for solutions to security and centralization issues associated with this type data. Blockchain’s immutability and ability to have multiple decentralized data contributors to a shared ledger provided a solution for the many problems associated with patient data. They had been searching for this technology, but needed a partner to help them build it. Insilico formed a joint venture in Europe with Bitfury, a leading European blockchain company. The company was renamed Longenesis. Longenesis had a clear goal: To create a blockchain-based healthcare ecosystem that would consider the sensitive needs of patients and the application requirements of biotech research.
Related: Blockchain is the answer to rising data privacy concerns
Longenesis created a blockchain-based environment that is accessible to all stakeholders in the healthcare/biotech sector, including patients organizations and biomedical research groups. Longenesis’s solution has the advantage of preserving a record of consent. Patients can agree to share their data with anyone, and there will always be immutable evidence of that consent.
Hospitals and other care agencies use Curator to compliantly and safely present data for researchers. This is without compromising patients privacy. This function allows researchers to access datasets and not compromise the security of patient data. Longenesis’ second product, Engage, allows researchers and companies to access the data. Engage allows researchers and hospitals to quickly enroll patients in new trials or research and record ongoing patient consent. Patients are informed about AI and can choose to consent to it at any time, regardless of whether they are using it to analyze medical data or new data. This solution has been deployed by Longenesis in state hospitals and government biobanks. Its work allows AI companies like Insilico Medicine access to vast amounts of data, which can be used to analyze artificial intelligence and lead to more treatment and drug discovery.
Data, Blockchain and Human Longevity
Although I have only highlighted two companies, there are many outstanding startups, research institutes, and doctors who work tirelessly to increase the lifespan. All of them could benefit from the blockchain-unlocked data, as well as the analytical power and efficiency of artificial intelligence.
An average hospital produces 760 Terabytes of data per year, but 80% of that valuable data is not structured and therefore unavailable to researchers. It must be kept secure and patients must consent to its use. This is preventing progress in all aspects of medicine. Blockchain and AI can be used to unlock the data, facilitate patient consent, track clinical data usage, and other benefits.
Artificial intelligence is unable to access the biomedical data that it requires to discover new solutions without blockchain. The vast amount of data that blockchain protects remains secure, but is not usable for research. These innovations can work together to make progress, as has been the case with critical public health initiatives in the past decade thanks to the World Wide Web. Our goal should be to make these technologies more widely available so that everyone can receive quality, long-term care.
These views, thoughts, and opinions are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Cointelegraph.
Garri Zmudze, a managing partner of LongeVC is a venture capital firm in Switzerland and Cyprus that focuses on accelerating innovative biotech startups and long-term longevity. He is an experienced business investor and angel investor who has helped many companies exit successfully in the biotech and tech industries. He has been a long-time investor and supporter of biotech companies such as Insilico Medicine and Deep Longevity. Author’s Note: Longenesis and Insilico Medicine are both portfolio companies of LongeVC, a longevity-focused VC company.