As October is the month of Breast Cancer Awareness, we thought it a good idea to examine the BRCA genes in more detail, given our area of focus. In case you missed it, Shivom recently announced its partnership with Genetic Technologies Limited, in the aim of improving the methods for predicting the presence of cancer (and subsequently preventing it) with Big Data analysis of individuals’ genes.
“We believe blockchain technology will open up markets to make it much more efficient to catch many more users and practitioners. Not only that, by using the Shivom platform to its full potential, we will also be able to access the benefits of research in collaboration with other personalized healthcare organizations,” commented Dr Paul Kasian, Chairman & Interim CEO of GTG.
Research on breast cancer is perhaps one of the most important medical pursuits of our era. The disease is the second leading cause of death in women, with one in eight being diagnosed in their lifetime (men can also be affected, though it’s a much rarer occurrence).
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the genes linked to the odds that someone develops the cancer. Contrary to popular belief, these genes are beneficial to individuals, and normally prevent the spread of cancer by suppressing tumours. Unfortunately, problems arise when the pair mutate (and consequently, no longer function as intended). Of those affected by a mutation, 55–65% with the BRCA1 mutation and 45% with the BRCA2 mutation will develop cancer by the age of 70. This is all too common. It’s something that, collectively, we need to better understand in order to actively combat and reduce incidences.
There’s some very good work underway already, and we’re eager to meaningfully contribute to the efforts. We’re firm believers in the power of data — specifically, the genomic information of individuals around the world. DNA holds troves of secrets that, once unlocked, could shed some light on some of the medical questions that have plagued us for centuries. In the age of artificial intelligence, data is fuel for building powerful models for prediction and further analysis. It’s important to ensure the pool is as large as possible to drive accurate results.
Blockchain protocols are the perfect chassis for building secure storage mediums for individuals, whilst also allowing them to share it with given parties — whether research institutions or companies operating in the medical field. It would offer them the ability to simply grant access outright, or to leverage a fee to ensure they’re remunerated for their contribution. Moreover, the nature of the tech is that it can reach even the most remote regions, granting researchers access to a much larger and diverse sample size.
In light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s important to remember what can be achieved with the technologies we have at our disposition. A key priority for all working with blockchain technology should be deploying it for the benefit of individuals globally — for us, that’s the logging, understanding and prevention of life-threatening diseases.
If you’d like to donate to the Breast Cancer Foundation, you can do so here.