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Using encryption to facilitate decentralized clinical trials that protect the privacy of individual patient data

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Truly privacy-preserving federated analytics for precision medicine with multiparty homomorphic encryption

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Abstract

Using real-world evidence in biomedical research, an indispensable complement to clinical trials, requires access to large quantities of patient data that are typically held separately by multiple healthcare institutions. We propose FAMHE, a novel federated analytics system that, based on multiparty homomorphic encryption (MHE), enables privacy-preserving analyses of distributed datasets by yielding highly accurate results without revealing any intermediate data. We demonstrate the applicability of FAMHE to essential biomedical analysis tasks, including Kaplan-Meier survival analysis in oncology and genome-wide association studies in medical genetics. Using our system, we accurately and efficiently reproduce two published centralized studies in a federated setting, enabling biomedical insights that are not possible from individual institutions alone. Our work represents a necessary key step towards overcoming the privacy hurdle in enabling multi-centric scientific collaborations.
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