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How Blockchain Can Accelerate Stem Cell Research

Lack of infrastructure for maximizing collective knowledge holds back stem cell research

Lack of knowledge sharing holds back stem cell research
Lack of knowledge sharing holds back stem cell research

Stem cells are a unique type of cell in the body. These cells are special because they are undifferentiated and can develop into different types of cells. Thus, they have the potential to regenerate, repair, and replenish other cells in the body. Thus, stem cell research focusses on using stem cells to treat illness and injury. While still in its infancy, there is tremendous potential for stem cell technology to improve humanity’s quality of life.

Already, breakthroughs in stem cell research span the gamut. The most successful and established stem cell therapies were done with bone marrow transplants over 40 years ago. Since then, further developments have been made. There are now many stem cell therapies available or under development around the world. These include immune system therapies, CHO cell and hybridomas, neural stem cell therapies, mammary epithelial cell therapies, prostate epithelial cell therapies, pulmonary stem cell research, intestinal stem cell research, and more.

Stem Cell Challenges Parallel Those of Early Cancer Research

Despite the strides in our knowledge of stem cells and their application for human welfare, there remain two issues. The first is a need for further research and development across a vast array of medical conditions that impact millions of people around the world. Second, there is an issue with linking patients in need of stem cell treatments with the doctors who have the knowledge to help them.

The difficulties in stem cell research are similar to those that plagued cancer research a few decades ago. For instance, there isn’t an adequate infrastructure for sharing information about research to ensure patients always receive the best treatment for their situation. A similar lack of infrastructure for maximizing collective knowledge characterizes global stem cell research.

A Blockchain Solution

One of the most significant applications for blockchain technology is in making collective knowledge accessible. This quality makes it well-suited for use in medical and health research contexts. Stem Cell Innovations (SCI) is working to create a unique platform that brings together stem cell knowledge and blockchain technology. SCI has existed since 2013 as a network of researchers, expert medical professionals, investors, and engineers hoping to expand access to stem cell research and treatment knowledge around the world. Now it is taking advantage of blockchain technology to further this goal.

There are four significant aspects of SCI’s plan.

A Collaborative Research Network

SCI will use blockchain to create a collaborative network for players in the stem cell industry to facilitate the transmission of research and development around the world. The system will be able to continuously maintain and refine this collective knowledge based on clinical results and the latest research. In this sense, SCI hopes to achieve with stem cell treatment what has been achieved in regards to cancer research.

Patient Health Information Storage

The second significant aspect of the SCI blockchain network is it will function as a patient health information storage ledger. The SCI blockchain will store the data and let users control which information doctors and medical organizations can access. Thus, patients can connect with doctors around the world and share relevant aspects of their health information with them. This service would everyone in the world benefit from the latest stem cell research.

Cord Blood Banking

The third significant aspect of SCI’s project is cord blood banking. “Cord blood” contains the best stem cells. This blood is in the umbilical cord immediately after birth. Cord blood banking (also known as stem cell banking) is the process of collecting cord blood and cryogenically freezing its stem cells. Being able to collect and store that blood for future use is a growing trend in medicine.

Stem cell banking allows parents to safeguard their children against possible medical issues in the future by ensuring they have access to their pure stem cells if needed. However, the complexity and cost of current stem cell banking options present many barriers to almost all parents who would want to take advantage of this medical technology. SCI plans to offer stem cell banking through an application ecosystem. Using its app parents will be able to sign up for stem cell storage, order a collection kit, and schedule courier pickup through one secure platform.

Dual Blockchain Platforms

SCI plans to run on dual blockchain platforms. The first is built on an Ethereum base powered by the ERC20 platform. The second is a custom built blockchain specifically for storing and processing patient stem cell records. The customized blockchain will be known as SCIChain and use the Hyperledger Fabric network. It uses smart contracts to protect user data and ensure only authorized individuals have access to it.

Conclusion

The potential for stem cell treatment is enormous. However, like the early days of cancer research, a lack of knowledge sharing holds back the development of stem cell therapies. SCI plans to provide the technological infrastructure to change that. However, more than this it will take advantage of the security and transparency of blockchain data storage to allow patients to connect with doctors and share knowledge relevant to their condition, but they can also control when and how much of their personal health information to share. From my perspective, the cord blood banking services is just an add on the these more fundamental services.

Disclaimer: I do not own SCI coins and I have no plans to participate in the ICO. This is not investment advice. Please do your own research and never risk funds you can’t afford to lose. 


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