Dr.Laura To Use Blockchain To Reduce Cancer Drug Development Cost
There have been lots of strong claims about blockchain technology in almost every sector, from food to medicine. So far, the sizzle to steak ratio has been out of whack, and skepticism is integral to good science.
Dr. Laura Esserman is on a mission to bring the blockchain to health care. She is a renowned surgeon and director of the UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center. She believes blockchain can cut the cost of cancer drug development while encouraging innovations in breast cancer treatment.
Esserman tells Fortune that her team at UCSF is testing out a ‘proof-of-concept’ using Salesforce Blockchain to share clinical trial lab results with researchers. The initiative will be considered at the Salesforce Dreamforce conference that is on Thursday.
“We don’t have the technology to automate this kind of data collection,” says Esserman.
The details are a bit scattered. The UCSF project is in association with ‘Quantum Leap Healthcare,’ a non-profit organization that’s fueling a breast cancer clinical trial program dubbed “iSPY2.”
The goal is to reduce the cost of cancer drug development within five years and $500 million, half of the ten years, and nearly one billion dollars are presently required to produce such treatments
For example, the baseline for what qualifies as an acceptable liver function level for a potential clinical trial participant can differ fiercely based on who did the test, what criteria were used to assess the numbers, and where it came from.
Blockchain could concurrently universalize and democratize that process, according to Esserman. This system could automate a process that is still, in this digital age, reliant on flesh-and-blood humans to assess, record, and analyze something as fundamental as lab reading.
“I can see, with blockchain, what the normalized numbers are for someone enrolling in an iSPY trial,” she says, adding that data re-entry and unnecessary practices can push the cost of a clinical trial 30% to 60%.
Blockchain could provide both efficiency and accountability on this front since everything is linked together in a documented chain-of-custody, a practice that is mainly foreign to American health care.
It will take time to declare whether such proof-of-concept rocks in the real world. But some medical readers are ready to give it a try.