LabTrace, a blockchain authentication system for data integrity and ownership certification, today announces the completion of the first experimental medicine study (ref ID: NCT03782753) to utilize its on-chain notarization tool, a novel solution to proving the provenance of medical research data. The study, sponsored by King’s College London (KCL), involved patients with Parkinson’s disease. By utilizing the Algorand blockchain, LabTrace has introduced unprecedented transparency, accountability and security in the verification of scientific research data.

There is growing concern that the exponential expansion of digital data in healthcare and  medical research is being accompanied by a growing incidence of scientific fraud. According to The Guardian, in 2023 “the annual number of papers retracted by research journals topped 10,000 for the first time,” and “most analysts believe this figure is only the tip of an iceberg of scientific fraud.” One reason cited for the increase in falsified data is the pressure to generate successful, high-impact results, which afford the researchers more recognition and career advancement opportunities.

“Progress in science and medicine is critically dependent on the quality of the data collected in our research studies, and we take that responsibility very seriously,” said professor Steve Williams, director of the Centre of Neuroimaging Science at King’s College London and principal study investigator. “The integrity of research data is the bedrock of medical breakthroughs and LabTrace’s blockchain-based system gives us the level of transparency we need to trust, track and authenticate our data.”

LabTrace’s blockchain-based data authentication system offers a unique and transparent solution to:

  • Certify authorship and data provenance
  • Establish and record a researcher’s ownership rights to data and discoveries
  • Securely timestamp and log trial data, original works, ideas, and inventions in an auditable fashion
  • Support drug approvals and patent applications
  • Protect against intellectual property and data theft

It achieves this by attaching unique Content IDs (CIDs), which follow IPFS standards, to all recorded data. Each CID file receives on-chain notarization by authorized parties–with user permissions defined and controlled by an Algorand smart contract (ie Role-Based Access Control). KCL implemented LabTrace as an additional layer of immutable record-keeping and to demonstrate a viable path forward for maintaining the integrity of digital medical data.

After surveying the blockchain landscape, LabTrace determined that Algorand, a leading Layer-1 solution known for its high-performance and reliability, was best suited to meet the rigorous requirements of the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. Specific advantages of Algorand are:

  • Its Layer-1 smart contract programmability, which enables role-based access control
  • High processing throughput of 10,000 transactions (or on-chain records) per second
  • High certainty and instant transaction finality, which provides an immediate and immutable warrant of information recorded to the ledger.

Timestamps and notarizations that certify the trial findings can be viewed here.

“This is an important achievement for our company, as it shows that our solution can be readily adopted in experimental medicine studies, managing data of any type,” said Federico Turkheimer, professor at King’s College London and director of LabTrace. “We believe we have built a solution to enable full data traceability in clinical trials and boost scientific reproducibility in medical research.”

“With AI expanding the scope and sophistication of potential data manipulation and fraud, it is more important than ever that researchers, regulators, and the public have trusted sources of data,” said Eric Wragge, global head of business development and capital markets for the Algorand Foundation.  “Accurate data is the bedrock of scientific progress everywhere, and we are honored that Algorand is the blockchain upon which the Labtrace solution has been built.”

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