Blockchain startup provides free genomic sequencing

By Folake Dosu  |  November 21, 2018

blockchain-genomic-sequencing

Everything is going on a blockchain so it was just a matter of time before your genome would join the party. WIRED reports how a startup called Nebula Genomics provides free whole-genome sequencing if you are willing to store this health information in a blockchain-based, decentralized genetic marketplace.

For answering some survey questions and referring friends, users can earn Nebula tokens for a lo-fi sequence. Otherwise, they can cough up $99 for the same sequence on a budget. 

Users who provide survey answers that pique the interest of a researcher or pharmaceutical company get an upgrade to premium 30X whole-genome sequencing in exchange for allowing your data to be studied.

The advantage of blockchain is that individuals retain financial control over their data while enjoying the security, anonymity and transparency the technology offers, says WIRED. Users can charge a fee, in tokens, for access to their genomic data and these tokens can be accepted as payment for DNA interpretation services.

The advantage of blockchain is that individuals retain financial control over their data while enjoying the security, anonymity and transparency the technology offers, says WIRED. Users can charge a fee, in tokens, for access to their genomic data and these tokens can be accepted as payment for DNA interpretation services.

Nebula has taken pains to ensure user privacy. Data analyses must take place on Nebula’s own computers and buyers never gain access to raw data. Users retain sole rights to download their DNA data from the platform. 

Nebula co-founder and chief scientific officer Dennis Grishin tells WIRED they wanted to create an option in the marketplace where users did not have to choose between learning more about their DNA and sharing with the research community or protecting their privacy.

The cost of genomic sequencing and rising privacy concerns have slowed a mainstream embrace of DNA testing. A lack of data also hinders scientists’ ability to offer meaningful insights with only 2 percent of people who get sequenced receiving actionable health information, according to WIRED.

Nebula is not alone in its blockchain ambitions. WIRED notes that “in the last three years, nearly 150 companies building biomedical blockchain applications have raised more than $660 million in the private and cryptocurrency markets.”

Check out tech
innovation in
your backyard

Startup news + jobs

Great Companies Need Great People. That's Where We Come In.

Recruit With Us