Released From Jail, Shkreli Plans Crypto-Backed ‘Web3 Drug Discovery’ Platform

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Martin Shkreli photographed for his role as CIO of MSMB Capital Management.

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Martin Shkreli – the notorious former pharmaceutical executive fresh out of jail after his 2017 fraud conviction – announced his latest eyebrow-raising venture on Monday: creating a “Web3 drug discovery platform”. based on the blockchain that traffics in its own cryptocurrency, MSI, aka Martin Shkreli Inu.

The platform, still in early development, is called Dopeaccording A press release which circulated on Monday. The platform’s goals are seemingly ambitious, but the details are extremely sketchy and Shkreli’s intentions have already sparked skepticism. It’s also unclear whether the company will bring Shkreli against his lifetime ban from the pharmaceutical industry, which stems from the brutal and ruthless 4,000% price hike of a life-saving drug that he is suffering from. made infamous.

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

Typically, 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. Then researchers look for compounds or small molecules that might interfere with that target, sometimes binding or “attaching” directly to the target in a way that stops it working. This can be done in physical labs using massive libraries of compounds in high-throughput chemical screens. But it can also be done virtually, using specialized software and lots of computing power, which can be resource-intensive.

Concepts and questions

This is where Shkreli’s Druglike is supposed to come in. a white paper posted on The Druglike website, Jason Sommer, partner at Shkreli, lays out some concepts on how the company’s platform works. Essentially, it would use a decentralized computing network of task providers, solvers, and validators that would run and optimize virtual drug candidate screening. The white paper bears 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 perform tasks, such as splash screens. For example, the article describes a concept of “proof of optimization” as a “new” blockchain-based verification step for filtering jobs similar to Bitcoin’s “proof of work” method.

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

But, for now, the white paper only vaguely describes these concepts, and it’s unclear how cryptocurrency transactions will generate value. It’s also unclear how the project will be funded, although an online exchange has suggested the company may be seeking for venture capital financing.

On Twitter, where Shkreli has been banned, he currently has an account as Enrique Hernandez @zkEnrique7. Of the, Shkreli announced the company on Monday and led a conversation about the project.

In that conversation, he scoffed at the idea that the platform would violate his lifetime ban on pharma, saying the project was only for software development, not drugs. “Writing code in Github and hitting ‘go’ doesn’t make you a pharmaceutical company,” he said.

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