Martin Shkreli Is Back With a Web3 Drug Discovery Platform

Martin Shkreli, the famous The former pharmaceutical executive, fresh from prison following his 2017 fraud conviction, announced his latest high-spirited venture this week: the creation of a blockchain-based Web3 drug discovery platform that trades in the his own cryptocurrency, MSI, also known as Martin Shkreli Inu.

The platform, still in early development, is called Druglike, according to a July 25 press release. His goals are apparently lofty, but the details are extremely sketchy, and Shkreli’s intentions have already drawn skepticism. It’s also unclear whether the company will face Shkreli with his lifetime ban from the pharmaceutical industry, which stemmed from the sudden and bloody 4,000 percent price hike of a drug that made him infamous.

Shkreli, who is named co-founder of Similar to drugs, says the platform aims to make early-stage drug discovery more affordable and accessible. “Duglike will remove barriers to early-stage drug discovery, increase innovation and allow a broader group of collaborators to share in the rewards,” Shkreli said in the press release. “Underserved and underfunded communities, such as those focused on rare diseases or developing markets, will also benefit from access to these tools.”

In general, early-stage drug development can sometimes involve virtual screens to identify potential drug candidates. In these cases, pharmaceutical scientists first identify a “target”—a specific compound or protein that plays a critical role in the development of a disease or condition. Researchers then look for compounds or small molecules that can interfere with that target, sometimes by binding or “docking” directly to the target so that it doesn’t work. This can be done in physical laboratories using massive libraries of compounds in high-throughput chemical screens. But it can also be done virtually, using specialized software and a lot of computing power, which can be resource-intensive.

Concepts and questions

That’s where he imagines Shkreli’s Druglike will come in. In a white paper posted on Druglike’s website, Shkreli associate Jason Sommer lays out some concepts for how the company’s platform would work. Essentially, it would use a decentralized computer network of task providers, solvers and validators that would execute and optimize the virtual screening of drug candidates. The white paper draws similarities to FoldIt, an online puzzle game that essentially uses distributed computing and crowdsourcing to fold proteins and predict their structures.

But Druglike’s platform is touted as incorporating blockchain concepts and cryptocurrency transactions when users complete tasks, such as docking screens. For example, the paper describes a concept of “optimization proof” as a “new” blockchain-based verification step for selection work, similar to Bitcoin’s “proof of work” method.

“We propose a blockchain-based implementation of the optimization test, where a distributed ledger stores records of which test solutions belong to which solvers. Smart contracts allow secure distribution of rewards to the Solver who owns the verified proof,” Sommer writes in the paper.

But for now, the white paper only vaguely describes these concepts, and it’s not clear how cryptocurrency transactions will generate value. It’s also unclear how the project will be funded, although an online exchange suggested the company might look for risk capital financing.

On Twitter, where Shkreli has been banned, he currently has an account as Enrique Hernandez @zkEnrique7. from there, Shkreli announced the company on July 25 i hosted a conversation about the project.

In that conversation, he scoffed at the idea of ​​the platform breaching his lifetime ban from the pharmaceutical industry, saying the project only involves developing software, not drugs. “Writing some code on Github and hitting ‘go’ doesn’t make you a pharmaceutical company,” he said.

This story originally appeared on Ars Technique.

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