Their successful application of this method to a recently reported, randomised clinical trial on cardiovascular diabetes ethanol, is outlined in a paper that has just passed peer review on open science publishing platform F1000Research.
Undeclared changes to protocols is a major issue in clinical research. If initial analyses show a medication to be ineffective, researchers can continue to analyse new health outcomes until a positive result is found. If only the positive findings are reported, the medication might be mistakenly approved.
Despite an international mandate requiring all trials to be registered before the experiments begin, the problem still persists as universal enforcement is difficult.
A blockchain is a decentralized database of bitcoin transactions; every transaction is publically recorded, timestamped and stored across a large, international network of computers, making it impossible for the records to be tampered with.
The innovative approach by Greg Irving, of the University of Cambridge, and John Holden, a General Practitioner, involves converting a clinical trial document into a bitcoin to take advantage its blockchain infrastructure.
Under their system the original clinical protocol is given a unique digital signature, determined by the document’s text using an online tool called the SHA256 Calculator. This signature is converted