Nebula aims to lead the emerging market by understanding and overcoming key obstacles in traditional models. Source: Shutterstock

Blockchain startup to help rent out your genetic information

BLOCKCHAIN and the topic of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have engulfed the Internet in the past year. And now the digital ledger tech is looking to let customers reap benefits from making their genetic information available to researchers while ensuring optimum privacy.

Nebula Genomics, a startup founded and advised by a team of geneticists and Harvard university graduates, is set to make this vision a reality.

Earlier this month, the startup released a new white paper detailing the logic behind the enterprise:

They want to sequence your genomes for less than US$1000, place them onto a secure blockchain, and then give you the power to do what you wish with your ‘protected’ data while pocketing cryptocurrency.

In the past, many challenges have arisen affecting the adoption rate of genome sequencing. In fact, only two percent of people have ever had their genome sequenced according to a recent survey.

This low penetration rate is partly due to privacy, ethical concerns, and the costs associated with the process.

Cheaper cost

In 2001, the first sequencing of the human genome cost approx US$3 billion. But with advances in technology, it now costs less than US$1000 to perform the same human genome sequencing- and this price is set to drop even further.

Secured data

Direct-to-consumer personal genomics, where people pay companies to sequence their genomes is not new.

However, in the traditional model, these companies would often keep a client’s genomic data and sell it on to pharma and biotech companies for research and development purposes – often unknown to the customer who doesn’t receive a single penny.

Nebula’s model, on the other hand, seeks to address this data-security problem by eliminating personal genomics companies as the middlemen.

Instead, data-owners can choose to place their personal genomic data on the Nebula blockchain P2P network, and then directly connect with data buyers.

For data providers, it significantly enhances the protection of their personal data and gives them freedom in what they do with it. And for data buyers, it enables greater data availability and smoother acquisition logistics.

Trading genome data for cryptocryptocurrencies

As well as gaining insights into your genetic makeup and potentially fueling drug research, Nebula ensures you will be paid for doing so.

This system is based around Nebula’s purpose-built cryptocurrency dubbed ‘Nebula tokens’. In order to have access to people’s genome data, companies will need to buy tokens.

Individuals wanting their DNA sequenced will initially have to pay a small fee using the coin, but they will get this money back – and more – as their genetic code is purchased by researchers.