Re-defining the Treatment Journey for Cancer Patients with Blockchain
(Photo : Re-defining the Treatment Journey for Cancer Patients with Blockchain)

Cancer is one of the most challenging diseases a human can face, with both extreme physical and mental aspects. A diagnosis of cancer is very stressful and frightening for the majority of patients and families. To add to this misery, the number of patients living with cancer has increased almost threefold globally since 1971. Even though the general healthcare infrastructure has increased significantly in the last 5 decades, a cancer patient's journey seems to have barely changed.

The hardship comes from the very nature of the disease. Unlike most diseases, cancer is a collection of hundreds of sub-diseases; depending on the method of evaluating it can range from 200-500. Each of them with different prognosis, symptoms, and treatments. This makes cancer even more difficult to diagnose, manage and find cures for. Personalized, individually tailored and molecular biomarker-informed combination therapies of different modalities are needed to conquer cancer.

Currently, data around cancer is scattered and exists in silos. Access to accurate information is hard to find for both patients and cancer researchers. Repeated surveys have shown that as many as 70% of patients are dissatisfied with the information they receive throughout their cancer journey. A lot of data provided to the patients is either confusing, misleading, irrelevant or may even come from a pharma company, with the angle of a treatment which might not be right for the patient. There is a dire need to remove this bias and confusion for patients so that they can adequately weigh the information and make decisions about their cancer journey. Additionally, researchers need more than data from previously published trials to bring efficiency into their projects. They need Real World Data (RWD) to verify their insights and get confidence in the same. This is where a Swiss-based company OncoCoin and their proprietary application Curia comes in.

OncoCoin provides a way to cater to these challenges, democratising access to reliable information on cancer treatment, clinical trials and experts, and crowdsourcing RWD. This multifaceted ecosystem incorporates not only the patients but also all stakeholders in their cancer journey which includes their families and loved ones, cancer research projects, regulators, insurers, investors, pharma companies and more. 

Additionally, the cancer ecosystem of OncoCoin is powered by blockchain technology which allows patients to contribute to cancer research virtually, without additional hospital visits. Patients can license their existing healthcare data through smart contracts and the entire ecosystem's data is protected by anonymisation and the best security features. 

Empowering patients with better access to information

One study shows that one of the most important values to patients in their care process is the feeling of knowing and understanding what is happening to them. In addition, patients valued the ability to select between treatment options. Patients who are informed and have access to better resources manage their disease more effectively.

OncoCoin uses AI to crawl billions of web pages daily, extracting data on treatments, clinical trials and experts from reliable sources such as regulatory sites, clinical trial registries, drug data and more. This information is then tailored in the app according to a patient's answers to  a questionnaire, giving them an individualised overview of the options for their cancer journey.

Addressing security concerns around data with blockchain 

One of the major concerns with the sharing of RWD circles around data security and anonymisation. For researchers, it is difficult to get hold of and store patient's RWD. OncoCoin is seeking to help researchers access the RWD they need through crowdsourcing and blockchain. Through OncoCoin, researchers can run surveys and studies, requesting certain data points from patients - be it lab reports, tumor sequencing data, or just quality of life insights. 

Patients have the autonomy to select the research projects they want to participate in and their data is only shared with that particular project. Once they upload their data, it is anonymised at the source, stored with the highest levels of security and encryption, and licenced to the chosen project through a smart contract on blockchain.

A safe method of sharing data, and control for patients over where their data is shared removes the barriers to patients sharing their information and increases ease for researchers of acquiring data. This data from diverse population groups, when coupled with AI, leads to significantly better prediction of novel therapies and more precise medication predictions.

Incentivizing patients for their data

Patient incentivisation is also a controversial topic in cancer research. This especially applies to traditional clinical trials, however when it comes to data which has already been collected from patients, there is more leeway when it comes to financial reward.  However, it is difficult to put a number on the value of patient data from the outset. A utility token helps resolve this dilemma and makes the research process more efficient. 

OncoCoin seeks to do this through means of a ERC20 standard utility token throughout the ecosystem. Patients can license their data to each individual project, and in return, receive OncoCoins.The value of using a token in this case, is that it allows patients to participate in the increase in value of the token when research projects come to fruition. OncoCoins can be used to transact within the app, and will also be traded on the secondary exchange. 

We are in the midst of a blockchain revolution. However, the revolution has just begun, but sectors like healthcare are significantly behind. Projects like OncoCoin are seeking to lead the way to bring the best of modern technologies such as Blockchain and AI to solve humankinds' biggest challenges. Cancer patients are finally empowered to use their data as they wish while being incentivized by OncoCoin tokens to do so. OncoCoin's Curia app enables patients to have more informed conversations with doctors and contribute through virtual research. All in all, OncoCoin helps patients to have an informed and seamless cancer journey re-defining the future of cancer research by bringing all stakeholders together through trust. 

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