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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Strategy for Storing Clinical Trial Data with Blockchains

Here the goal example for using Blockchains  is the integrity of stored results among multiple parties.  Assuming some parties have an incentive to tamper with the data.   So why not use a database ledger with assured strong passwords and encryption?   

The argument being made is that the blockchain cannot be altered without leaving evidence of tampering, using a combination of hashing and proof-of-work strategies. Yet there have been a number of cases lately where the blockchain was not as strong as theoretically expected.   Due to some bad design and operational choices. 

The approach below uses centralized authority to enforce choices, similar to enforcing better passwords in computer systems.   Since hashing is used, the choice of random numbers to create the hash is key, and we assume the central authority enforces that.

Researchers Create Method to Ensure Integrity of Clinical Trials Data With Blockchain
By James Ives

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) researchers have developed a proof-of-concept method for ensuring the integrity of clinical trials data, using blockchain. The prototype system produces an inflexible audit trail in which tampering can be easily flagged. The system is designed to run through a Web portal, so every time new data is entered on a given trial participant, the sender, receiver, timestamp, and file attachment containing the data, as well as the hash of the previous block of data relating to the patient, are recorded onto a new block with its own unique signature. A regulator with centralized authority must operate the portal, register all parties, and maintain a ledger of the blockchain's hashes. Real-time reporting of data to the regulator could augment the safety and effectiveness of clinical trials. Said UCSF's Atul Butte, "We think it could someday be useful for pharma companies running clinical trials."  .... "

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