Shivom

Here’s How Shivom Chooses it’s Marketplace Partners

Shivom

This week, Shivom will launch its first iteration of our direct-to-consumer health management marketplace.  In this post, we will be providing information to the community and prospective partners about how we determine which products and companies are listed on our platform.

Shivom’s mission is to not only optimize how DNA is shared, secured and analysed but to bring exponential value to our end-users. With this mission comes the responsibility to make some pretty tough decisions through and through. One of these decisions is choosing which companies Shivom would want to interact with within our eco-system. When our team started working on ‘Shop 1.5’ Shivom understood that we shouldn’t strive to be just a marketplace promoting every type of genetic testing product we could get our hands on. This business model not only has problems with scalability but additionally lowers the quality or value we bring to our audience. For these reasons and many more, our team developed quality control and criteria which are used to decide which partners should be able to gain entry to the marketplace.

The first part of our review is about companies’ data privacy and security policies. The first question we ask is, do you share data with third-parties? The second question we ask is, do you sell or utilise the user’s data in order to generate revenue? If the answer is yes to either one of these questions, straight off the back the company would be eliminated from being able to join our marketplace.

In the second part of the review, our team will determine the quality of the report and determine whether it brings any value or if it is B*** S***. A Great example of this is when I recently saw on a competitor’s website that they were sequencing a user’s DNA in order to find out what kind of t-shirt looked best on them (v-neck or crew).

The third part of our review is whether the product and or company brings value to the eco-system. For example, if someone recently purchased Living DNA’s 3-in-1 Ancestry Kit they might also be interested in learning about their nutrition and cholesterol. Instead of having to purchase an entire kit we look at products which allow people to use their Raw Genetic data gained from the Ancestry KIt instead of having to re-swab, prick or take a faecal sample all over again. Additionally, we are also looking at which products are complementary to each other and could go hand-in-hand

In case you were wondering what the reasons were for choosing Vitl, Living DNA and Chronomics for our first iteration, I’ve included below an in-depth explanation.

Vitl
Vitl products not only have a high rate of positive customer feedback (e.g. 91% of customers rated Vitl products as ‘Excellent’ on Trustpilot), the team is comprised
of experts in their field; such as geneticists, nutritionists who understand the science and the practical aspects of healthy nutrition. Vitl uses the latest innovative technologies, such as; artificial intelligence. Additionally, the company uses credible vendors and laboratories for their tests(e.g. UKAS-accredited and CQC-registered blood testing facilities) as well as Illumina CSPro Certified Service Providers in Europe and the USA for DNA testing. Whilst other brands may test for a larger number of less well-researched traits, Vitl emphasizes quality over quantity. They only cover traits based on the strongest, peer-reviewed evidence to ensure users are getting the most reliable results.

Lastly, similar to Shivom’s philosophy of combining different omics technologies to gain insight, Vitl enables the integration of DNA data alongside blood and dietary results and lifestyle information. This is important because supplement recommendations or lifestyle advice cannot be made on DNA information alone, but taken alongside current blood vitamin levels and diet that are measured in a longitudinal way.

Living DNA
Living DNA launched back in 2016 as a collaboration of more than 100 scientists, researchers and genetic experts. We added Living DNA as a partner to our ecosystem because they provide precise ethnic estimates of ancestry testing. The 3-in-1 test covers the biggest number of genetic populations, which translates to the most accurate genetic percentages and offers unrivalled worldwide regional and sub-regional detail. The test incorporates three separate tests in one, giving the customer more for their money than any other ancestry tests on the market right now.

Additionally, instead of just getting your basic family ancestry (autosomal DNA), you also get an analysis along your mother line (derived from mitochondrial DNA) and your father line (derived from the male-specific y-chromosome). Living DNA is a holder of ISO:27001 certification, which demonstrates good protection and security for personal and genetic data. As DNA samples are only connected to unique ID numbers, not even its staff members will know the identity of its users. The company works with “Show Racism the Red Card,” a group that fights racism to provide a safe space to reduce racist ideas and attitudes. Lastly, Living DNA provides the raw data of all test results which can be used on the Shivom precision medicine platform to foster research and fight rare diseases.

Chronomics
Epigenetic testing is relatively new to the direct-to-consumer testing market. We partnered with Chronomics because of their impeccable experience in this field. Our CSO, Dr Axel Schumacher is one of the many pioneers of epigenetics and worked alongside some of the Chronomics team members.

Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. Epigenetic testing offers additional value to genomic testing, in particular, allowing individuals to analyse how environmental and lifestyle choices affect the body and how these patterns change over time. By monitoring epigenetic patterns, it is possible to collect actionable insight allowing for a personalized improvement plan. Most importantly, Chronomics provides users with the ability to gain access to their raw data which can be managed, stored and monetized on Shivom.

For more information about Shivom please visit here
To read more about our affiliation with Living DNA please visit here
To read more about our affiliation with Vitl please visit here
To read more about our affiliation with Chronomics please visit here

About Shivom
Shivom is a biotechnology data and analysis company optimising the way DNA is shared, secured and analysed. By utilising innovative technologies such as blockchain and machine-learning algorithms, we are able to democratise genomics.

Our mission is to bring exponential value to our end-users within the genomics industry. We believe that the unique combination of our in-depth knowledge for genomics, mixed with deep-rooted backgrounds in cryptography and AI is essential in the democratisation of genomics and healthcare data.

Learn more about our direct-to-consumer solutions here

Shivom Social Channels:
Official Homepage: shivom.io
Twitter (English): @projectshivom
Youtube: Shivom’s Channel
Telegram: Shivom Announcements
Facebook: @projectshivom
Instagram: @projectshivom
Medium: Shivom Official
LinkedIn: @projectshivom

Recommended

The Cervical Cancer Awareness Month is here! How aware are you

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month is here! How aware are you?

The Cervical Cancer Awareness Month is here! How aware are you

How often have you come across a patient of cervical cancer around you? Chances are, rarely. But reality begs to differ. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over six per cent women around the world (including 570,000 new cases) suffered from cervical cancer in 2018. Sadly, the statistics of both the developed and developing countries tell a similar horrifying story. Every day, nine women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer and three lose their battles to life. In the US, nearly 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, which amounts to an appalling 36 women falling prey every day! Developing countries like India have morbid statistics too. As per a study by National Center for Biotechnology Information, India alone accounts for a quarter of cervical cancer cases globally. Approximately 270,000 women across the world die from cervical cancer yearly, with 85 per cent deaths occurring in low-to-middle income countries. Owing to the gigantic figures, the United States Congress designated January as the Cervical Health Awareness Month.

Most common among women aged around 35 years, cervical cancer has remained, through times, an ignominious reality. However, even more lamentable is the fact that 75 per cent of such cases are actually prevented by cervical screening (or smear tests) and vaccination. Yet, one in four women does not attend this potentially life-saving test because of embarrassment. Some time back as part of the Pink Chain campaign, a study among schoolteachers in India was conducted. It revealed that cervical cancer was the second most common cancer in India. It also identified and assessed the level and impact of awareness programs in the adoption of safe practices in prevention and early detection. Uneasiness around discussing the topic with friends, family and peers emerged as the main reason behind women not coming forward for tests and treatment.

While cervical cancer rates have dropped significantly within the United States over the past few decades, it still remains a critical global health issue. The high mortality rate for cervical cancer in the developing world is driven by limited access to cervical cancer screening and treatment. Laboratory-based methods used to detect cervical cancer, and the personnel required to perform and analyse them may be unavailable in developing nations. In an alarming finding, it was identified that approximately 90 per cent of deaths from cervical cancer occurred in low- and middle-income countries. Likewise, the ability to treat cervical cancer is highly dependent on access to surgical facilities, chemotherapy agents and radiation equipment.

The high global mortality rate despite having mechanisms to diagnose and treat this cancer is a matter of great concern. Doctors and researchers have time and again emphasized that more awareness programs need to be run and sustained in order to literate people, especially women, to combat this cancer. Women must be encouraged to speak, walk up to a doctor and get her diagnosed. Reduction in mortality could be induced through a comprehensive approach which includes preventive care, early diagnosis, effective screening and treatment, and follow-ups. Particularly, in countries where screening programs are not available, identifying cervical cancer at an early stage and providing effective treatment can improve the likelihood of survival. Presently, in many low-income nations, the disease is often not identified until in advanced stages.

Widespread training and awareness programs run by state governments in partnership with CSR divisions of private firms can also be a way forward in combating cervical cancer. They must be made educated on the initial symptoms of the cancer. WHO Package of Essential non-communicable (PEN) disease interventions for primary healthcare in low-resource settings has guidance on the approach to assessing and referring affected women in the primary care setting. This must be widely publicized through various broadcast channels. In one of its studies, the WHO has concluded that “… screening should be performed at least once for every woman in the target age group (30-49 years) when it is most beneficial; HPV testing, cytology and visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) are all recommended screening tests;  cryotherapy or loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) can provide effective and appropriate treatment for the majority of women who screen positive for cervical pre-cancer; “screen-and-treat” and “screen, diagnose and treat” are both valuable approaches.”

Irrespective of the approach being deployed in educating women, the key to an effective program is reaching the largest proportion of women at risk. Organized screening programs, comprehensive cervical cancer prevention and control, community education, social mobilization, vaccination, etc. can go a long way in improving cervical cancer control. Cervical Health Awareness Month is an opportunity to dedicated work, for a whole month, towards ensuring that our women remain safe and prevented from this deadly cancer. Let us spread the word around, not only among our female friends but also among our male friends, peers and family so that in case of such diagnosis, every person around must be aware of the next critical steps involved in treating the patient. Let us all be well-equipped for a better tomorrow because prevention is certainly better than cure.

Recommended

Our Alpha Public Release!

Back in August, we announced that we would be releasing a platform in order for our community to test and give us feedback on the first iteration of our Alpha product.

After onboarding a wealth of new talent and welcoming Henry Ines to the role of CEO, we felt it time to take a step back and reassess our current position. We realized that many of our competitors, both startups in the blockchain space and traditional genetics companies had spent a significant amount of time streamlining their UI/UX and USPs. It became clear to us that we needed to innovate in an area that’s often overlooked – secure storage. In perfecting such a solution, we would be able to offer our community and competitors alike greater freedom and transparency where the storage and sharing of their DNA data is concerned, having a positive knock-on effect on the direct-to-consumer genetic testing industry.

Months of development later, after several scrum meetings and all-nighters, we’re thrilled to unveil to the community the long-awaited Alpha Release!


A Sleek UI/UX Brand Overhaul

Users will also notice that we’ve greatly simplified our sign-up process, stripping it down to three easy steps:

Select whether you’re a consumer or an enterprise user, before adding general account information (name, DOB, country, etc.)

Complete health and wellness information by answering a range of questions (which, in later releases, will not only help us better assess which products we should provide our audience with, but also improve the search function for organizations seeking particular DNA datasets). Of course, the user will be able to specify whether they wish to be ‘discoverable’ in our Enterprise Search feature.

The final step in the sign-up process is adjusting user permissions – you’ll be able to set search, viewing and contact permissions that are linked to DNA data uploaded onto the platform. We’ve implemented toggle functionality to offer users a more granular experience over categories. For instance, they may choose to only make their data searchable and available to academic research teams over governmental organizations.

DNA Upload & Encryption

As aforementioned, we’ve spent countless hours fine-tuning our secure storage feature whilst ensuring newcomers and users of previous genetic testing kits are provided with a seamless experience for securely uploading their data. If you’ve used another testing service previously, all you need is your genetic information to get started – usually, this is stored in a file with a .vcf extension.

Navigate to the MYDNA page and click on ‘Upload’ to select the requisite file from your device. Once selected, it will be encrypted and subsequently stored on the Shivom platform. In successive releases, expect an even simpler process, where logins for sites like 23andMe or Ancestry can be used in order to directly import data.

Additionally, this page allows you to pre-order home testing kits. Select this option to be added to the pre-order list for the kits, which will be shipped in Q1 of 2019.

 

What’s Next?

Shivom will continue iterating on its product and fleshing out our core features – above all, our work is driven with a focus on security and accessibility. In tandem, we’ll launch numerous upgrades to campaign management for enterprise users and our Enterprise Search function (providing granular filters for organizations seeking out specific data sets, i.e. those from specific regions, associated with certain diseases or conditions, etc.).

For users that wish to share their data with researchers or institutes in the medical field (all whilst being remunerated for their participation), we’ll be rolling out the ability to anonymously provide organizations with datasets within a set timeframe, leveraging blockchain-based payments directly into an integrated wallet accessible via Shivom’s web portal.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates on our roadmap, developments and partnerships in the coming weeks. Go ahead and experiment with the Alpha, and be sure to let us know what you like, what could be improved, and what you’d like to see added in the future via the Intercom feature at the bottom right-hand side of the portal.

Until next time,

The Shivom Team

Recommended

World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Shivom is helping to make diseases like Alzheimer’s a thing of the past. By creating a secure platform for the storage and sharing of genomic data, Shivom is transforming the precision medicine of tomorrow by allowing researchers and pharmaceutical R&D pipelines access to vital genomic data today. This type of data can help determine an individual’s predisposition to certain diseases, among them Alzheimer’s, and even help in the development of future preventatives and cures.

Shivom’s Chief Scientific Officer, Axel Schumacher published the first proof of whole-genome epigenetic abnormalities in late-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. His report specified that epigenetic drift, or change, that occurs with age may put people at higher risk for developing the disease. The findings suggest that epigenetic drift may be an important driving force in AD pathology and raise the tantalizing question of whether such epigenetic changes could be prevented.

Around the world, 44 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s, a fatal form of dementia. The U.S. is home to 5.5 million of those suffering, among them 200,000 people younger than 65 with early-onset symptoms.

The prevalence of Alzheimer’s increases with each generation, especially as populations live to be older. By 2050, the number of those affected in the U.S. is estimated to quadruple, leaving 14 million with the disease (World Alzheimer Report, 2018).

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, not only are more people getting Alzheimer’s as they age—the disease is becoming deadlier. Between 1999 and 2014, death rates from Alzheimer’s increased 55 percent, and today the disease is the 5th leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2017, caregiving associated with Alzheimer’s cost the U.S. $259 Billion, which is nothing in comparison to the physical and emotional toll the disease takes on its victims and their family members.

Alzheimer’s disease is, paradoxically, unique for both its pervasiveness and its mystery. Despite its ubiquity among U.S. senior citizens, there is still no cure in sight, and much about the disease remains unknown. What clinicians do know is that genetics play a large part in determining an individual’s predisposition to the disease.

The most common gene associated with late-onset Alzheimer’s is the apolipoprotein E (APOE). This gene has three forms: the APOE-e2 variety, which reduces one’s risk for the disease, the APOE-e3 variety, which appears to have no effect on risk, and the APOE-e4 variety or the “Alzheimer’s Gene,” which increases one’s risk.

Every person inherits two APOE genes from their parents—one from their father, and one from their mother. However, inheriting two APOE-e4 genes doesn’t necessarily guarantee that an individual will develop Alzheimer’s. Conversely, some people born without any APOE-e4 genes may also develop the disease. Still, according to a study recently published in Neuron, over 50 percent of Alzheimer’s cases are linked to APOE-e4.

Last year, researchers with the Mayo Clinic also linked APOE-e4 to the newly-termed “Type 3” Diabetes, a form of diabetes in the brain. It’s already well-known that those who suffer from Type 2 Diabetes are more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s due to reduced blood flow and lack of essential nutrients to the brain. Now, it has been discovered that APOE-e4 interferes with brain cells’ ability to use insulin, causing the cells to starve and die.

Still, clinicians don’t generally test for the APOE genotype among late-onset Alzheimer’s patients. Results can be indeterminate, and the disease can usually be diagnosed without genetic testing by that point.

However, testing early-on for APOE-e4 or other mutant genes associated with early-onset Alzheimer’s, like Amyloid precursor protein (APP), Presenilin 1 (PSEN1), and Presenilin 2 (PSEN2), could help determine with some certainty if an individual will develop the disease before the age of 65.

One common characteristic among those with Alzheimer’s are “amyloid plaques,” which are amyloid-beta peptides that build up in the brain and clump together, leading to the death of nerve cells. As these clumps collect, tau protein malfunctions stick together forming neurofibrillary tangles, creating the types of brain abnormalities commonly associated with Alzheimer’s (Mayo Clinic, 2017).

Imagine how much could be learned about Alzheimer’s through the collection of genomic data worldwide. Researchers could identify more of the unknown genetic mutations that cause amyloid plaques, or even isolate an autosomal dominant gene shared by all Alzheimer’s patients, or sets of genes that increase susceptibility to the disease. This could allow for earlier diagnoses, and perhaps, one day, preventative measures or even a cure.

By creating a secure platform where researchers and pharmaceutical R&D pipelines have access to stored genomic data on a massive scale, Shivom hopes to propel treatment for Alzheimer’s forward, incentivization genomic donors around the globe to contribute their data toward a future where Alzheimer’s disease is, itself, a forgotten memory.

Recommended