Blockchain Used For Genetics Start-up

Blockchain Used For Genetics Start-up

Nebula Genomics is a company that uses blockchain technology to allow people to store their personal genomic data.

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Nebula Genomics is a company that uses blockchain technology to allow people to store their personal genomic data.

Pharma and biotech companies spend billions of dollars each year for genomic data. It is important for scientists to study causes of diseases and develop cures. However, the genomic data market has its problems like data fragmentation, lack of data standardization and slow data acquisition, as Nebula Genomics explains on their website.

Therefore, the start-up utilizes the power of blockchain technology to lower sequencing costs and enhance data privacy. The co-founders of the company include George Church, Ph.D., a professor at Harvard Medical School and MIT and the inventor of next-gen DNA sequencing, as well as Dennis Grishin, Boehringer Ingelheim PhD Fellow in Genetics and Genomics at Harvard University, and Kamal Obbad, a Harvard graduate and Google Cambridge University computer science drop-out.

How does it work?

The traditional business model of direct-to-consumer personal genomics company works in the following way: people pay to sequence or genotype their genomes and receive analysis results. Then, personal genomics companies keep the genomic data and sell it to pharma and biotech companies using the data for research and development.

On the other hand, the Nebula model eliminates personal genomics companies as middlemen between data owners and data buyers. Here is where blockchain, and particularly the Ethereum smart contracts that are used to power Nebula`s Blockstack platform, can help. Data owners can acquire their personal genomic data from Nebula sequencing facilities or other sources, join the company`s blockchain-based, peer-to-peer network and get in touch with data buyers.

Why is it important?

According to Nebula`s white paper, any two humans are, genetically, 99.9% identical to each other. Nevertheless, the 0.1% difference may be responsible for differences like physical traits, personality and disease predispositions. With personal genome sequencing, scientists can now receive this information.

“This information can be used to make optimal choices in regard to all health-related questions including medical treatments, family planning, personal diet, and exercise regimen .”, as the white paper points out. The authors of the white paper add that there are other opportunities like gene editing, physical exercise, diet, preventive treatments, medical prescriptions and family planning.

At the same time, it is not many people that do these genome sequencing tests. Nebula`s goal is to become a Personal Health Records (PHR) system that derives insights into personal health, something that can be used for prevention.

Read more about the company`s aim in their white paper.