Annually cancer kills more than 10 million people. It is a serial killer which respects neither young nor old. Modern medicine tries to confront this deadly danger and quite often successfully beats the enemy. Nowadays we have many new treatments which are pretty efficient. But the main point here is timeliness in diagnosis. The earlier the cancer is detected, the higher the chances for successful treatment are. It is especially true in the aspect of breast cancer.
It is one of the significant cause of women death worldwide. For example, 2012 saw 1,7 million of new cases and more than half a million deaths caused by it. 140 of 184 countries proved breast cancer as the cause of 25% of all cancer deaths. As mentioned above, early detection of breast cancer is central to successful treatment.
Importance of accuracy
There are some diagnosis methods, and one of the most promising is the method of liquid biopsy. It allows detecting DNA of cancer cells in the blood. When the cancer cell dies, its DNA passes through the bloodstream will be then detected through liquid biopsy method. And this is the way to identify cancer before its first symptoms. Lab sensitivity and specificity of one of the tests based on this technique are both close to 95% rate.
Unfortunately, it is somewhat difficult to bring the new product of this kind to the market. It is necessary to conduct additional independent clinical studies under the secure control of regulatory bodies. It takes much time and resources, but it is mandatory if the company wants to show its breakthrough-method or medicinal agent to the world.
As for liquid biopsy methods, some of them are much better than other existing methods. For example, sensitivity and specificity of the existing modern diagnosis methods mammography, ultrasound, MRI, visual examination do not exceed 70-80% of accuracy. A biopsy is a little bit better, but even its accuracy can barely exceed 90%. It results in every 3th-5th case to be incorrect which can be fatal for patients.
So there is we have a problem. From the one side, the medical industry has a strong need for the development of new technologies and methods of early cancer detection methods. It is necessary to spend years to bring these breakthrough methods to the biotech market.
But how the blockchain fits? What is it all about then?
As for blockchain, we’ll get to it soon. Now it’s worth saying that the global pharma and biotechs markets are in high monopolization. And this monopoly frequently leads to corruption and lack of transparency. It is a huge obstacle for many new innovative projects which could be very important for biotech market and society. In many cases, pharma monopoly stops the progress of clinical researchers and new medicine development or cancer tests mentioned above.
Besides the monopoly, there are other obstacles to pharma market freedom. In particular, clinical trial cycle. Now it involves many different roles (researchers, clinics, CROs, medicine suppliers, regulators, etc.). The price of the mistake or fraud can be a human life. That’s why the clinical trial is highly controlled and bureaucratized.
And here is the time to think about blockchain technology and smart contracts. The technology allows making blockchain ecosystem fully transparent. Each transaction could be visible to members of blockchain platform. It is an excellent opportunity to pave the way for innovative technologies which will be independent of big pharma players monopoly.
The blockchain is a straightforward but efficient and reliable technology. It is a perfect solution for situations where participants do not trust each other. Pharma market and clinical research are ecosystems where participants are not “friends.” For example, patients don’t trust pharmacists; pharmacists can’t trust each other and regulators. All this creates a very complicated situation on the biotech market which can hardly be solved fast with traditional methods.
This technology breaks new ground on data operations. All the patients will manage to share their health data and control it at the same time. All the data is under the protection of a unique security key so that the patients can authorize and tack the use of their PHI. Blockchain allows shifting the responsibility from participants to the computer, thus making the clinical trial more trustable, quicker and, ultimately, cheaper.
In general, the blockchain ecosystem is fully transparent. But, of course, pharma companies, which make new medicines, will not be satisfied if competitors will have access to their data. Patients who provide their data for medical researchers also won’t be happy if someone takes the full control of it. So, if we want to make the system, where all participants trust each other, we have to make permission blockchain platform.
Pharma and biotech markets count much more participants. Others are regulatory and registration authorities, experts, researchers, clinics, insurance companies, etc. To make the blockchain system efficient, we have to divide the roles of each participant and make different access levels to data for them. And only after that, the new system will be alive and workable. By the way, according to WEF in 2025 10% of the global gross domestic product will be stored on the blockchain.
And, yes, eventually we could explain this article’s title. New platform based on blockchain will allow moving further cancer tests to biotech market quickly. Many times faster than it can be with current market perspectives. The excellent example of what we are talking about is ARNA Panacea – the first blockchain biotech ecosystem from ARNA Genomics company. But this is only one example. Soon there will be much more.
Almost indefinite possibilities
Proper usage of blockchain technology could be a significant contribution not only for biotechnology startups but also for many other companies and scientists to validate their new technologies much faster and reliable. First of all, blockchain allows to store all information which is, on the one hand reliably, can be completely protected (encrypted), but on the other – no one can change it after it is in the blockchain. That is the idea of blockchain – and such concept perfectly fits two applications – financial transactions and healthcare, specifically in clinical studies. Blockchain could be the future for the whole biotech market. And this future is near.