A Blockchain-powered platform which aims to become the world’s largest hub for genomic data has established a “hugely significant” partnership with the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
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Shivom wants to enable people around the world get their genome sequenced, allowing them to benefit from medicine that is personalized to fit their needs.
Andhra Pradesh is India’s eighth-largest state with a population of more than 60 mln people. The deal to help the local government revamp its healthcare system will commence with the initiation of a pilot program in one of the largest medical institutions in the region, establishment of a development centre at Fintech Valley in Vizag, and alignment with the International Institute of Digital Technologies at Tirupati on cybersecurity and analytics.
J A Chowdary, the IT adviser to the state’s chief minister, said: “Our partnership with Shivom explores the possibilities of providing an efficient way of diagnostic services to patients of Andhra Pradesh by maintaining the privacy of the individual data through Blockchain technologies.”
Both parties hope the collaboration will help the health service shift its approach from reactive to more preventative medicine.
Diversifying genomic data
According to Shivom, some of the benefits for patients who have their genome sequenced include the ability to predict whether there is a risk of them developing certain conditions in the future, potential to prevent disease, and an opportunity to select a treatment plan including the medication and dosages that may prove most effective.
The company views the partnership with Andhra Pradesh as particularly significant because there is a lack of diversity in the genomic data currently used by scientists worldwide.
“This results in exclusion, as minority and under-represented groups miss out on the benefits from advances in predictive and personalised medicine because genomic variations that exist in their ethnic or geographical location will not be present in the data that researchers are working with,” explained Dr Axel Schumacher, the CEO of Shivom.
The cost of DNA sequencing has fallen significantly in recent years and continues to do so.
Donors who participate in Shivom’s project retain full control of their record and can decide who accesses it in the future – with the opportunity to earn rewards for providing their information for pharmaceutical and research developments.
Gourish Singla, Shivom’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “We view the future with consumers retaining complete control of their own health data. Most of us are oblivious to 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.”
Shivom says it is now in talks with other governments around the world to see how DNA sequencing could revitalize their healthcare systems and benefit citizens.
Forming strategic alliances
At the beginning of March, Shivom also announced it had forged a partnership with publicly traded (Nasdaq: Gene; ASX: GTG) molecular diagnostics company Genetic Technologies Limited (GTG).
The goal of the collaboration is to help GTG continue its development of predictive tests for cancer as it benefits from an increasing pool of data covering new markets and different ethnic backgrounds. Meanwhile, Shivom will benefit from access to GTG’s CLIA-accredited laboratories.
Shivom’s platform is driven by the interplay of OmiX tokens – and registration is currently open for a token presale which is due to take place from April 16-22.