Blockchain startup aims to securely store genomic data
Shivom, a new blockchain startup, is looking to provide a platform for the mass storage and subsequent analysis of genetic data. It follows in the steps of many other industries that want to make use of blockchain technology.
From the company’s website, “Shivom is creating a genomics ecosystem on the blockchain. We will offer an open marketplace for healthcare providers to add their apps and services, alongside genomic data analytics and personalized medicine.”
In short, individuals that join the platform will not only be able to securely store their genomic data on a blockchain but also have the choice to use that data to contribute to important scientific endeavors such as clinical tests and drug research. Given that the platform is a marketplace for genomic data, any user that chooses to participate in a study will also be compensated in return.
Shivom believes that a blockchain is a natural fit for the purpose of storing large swathes of genomic data primarily because the technology is secure and decentralized. With an estimated two billion genomes expected to be sequenced within the next few years, it is easy to see how the large influx of new data can be used towards further advancing the fields of medicine and healthcare.
So far, the platform has been gaining traction across the globe, with the company announcing partnerships with several other key players in the field. In addition to its strategic alliance with the US-based molecular diagnostics company, Genetic Technologies Limited, Shivom has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The collaboration will allow the local government to bring the genomic data of its entire population of around 60 million people onto Shivom’s blockchain.
Addressing the issue of data privacy, the company also stated that all data added to the blockchain will be encrypted and protected from theft. DNA contributors and donors will have full control over their genomic data and be able to decide which third party does or does not have access to it.
The co-founder and COO of the company, Gourish Singla, explained Shivom’s stance on privacy, “Most of us are oblivious of the implications of giving away personal information, and the recent Facebook and Cambridge Analytica issue has demonstrated just how important it is to be aware of who owns your data and what they are doing with it. This is why we are proud to be the first DNA sequencing platform to put the ownership of an individual’s DNA in their hands.”
The Shivom platform is expected to launch its proof of concept product sometime by the end of the second quarter of 2018. Eventually, the Shivom Foundation hopes to branch out into the fields of artificial intelligence and deep learning as well.