According to Harvard geneticist George Church, anyone will be able to receive cryptocurrency in exchange for access to their genetic data for pharmaceutical companies.
The startup Nebula Genomics, founded by geneticist George Church from Harvard University, offers to sequence an individual’s genome for $1K and secure the sequencing results using a blockchain. After that, genome’s owner will be able to earn cryptocurrency by sharing his data, writes MIT Technology Review.
Most companies involved in genetic research leave the genomic data in their database. But Nebula Genomics proposes to allow the client to do whatever he want with the received data. For example, people may provide access to their data to pharmaceutical companies who need to decode the genome for their research.
Thus, the founders of the company expect to extend the practice of genome sequencing. Clients will receive data on the risks of diseases, and research projects will receive a large base of genetic information. The company also intends to create a platform where people can pay for genome decoding and use of its results with Nebula tokens. Nebula’s blockchain uses Blockstack platform and Ethereum smart contracts.
For example, if you pay for DNA testing through 23andMe, Helix or Ancestry.com, the company that performs testing, not you, will receive a profit, selling your data. Nebula wants to sequence the entire genomes of people and allow people to earn digital money by sharing it.
George Church with colleagues say that pharma and biotech companies need genome data for new drugs developing. Usually they buy this data from academic institutions or genetic testing companies, such as 23andMe, often paying millions of dollars.
Nebula Genomics wants to eliminate intermediaries, so people will be able to sell their genetic data directly to pharmaceutical companies.
"You do not just monetize your genetic data," says Kemal Obbad, one of the co-founders of Nebula Genomics. - You will get what the 23andMe and Ancestry.com do. For example, information about your risks and predispositions to certain diseases. "