If you really want to get to know the full information about your genomes, well, you might just need the blockchain to do it.
A tech start-up called Nebula is working on using a blockchain to process the information contained in genomes.
Now, you can not only get your genomes sequenced, you can know just about exactly what it means and what you can do to avoid DNA timebombs built into your DNA. And thanks to the secure environment of the blockchain, your information can be protected from prying eyes.
|Solve Genomics with the Blockchain? Why the Hell Not|
So far, getting your whole genome sequenced won’t tell you as much as you might hope about your health. It can’t—not until the genome jockeys have had their way with a much bigger database. Chicken, egg, etc. And there’s an obstacle. In a study of 13,000 people, 86 percent worried about what would happen if a researcher misused their genetic data. Slightly more than half had concerns about their privacy.
Obviously there can be only one solution: the blockchain……
Early February brought the announcement of Nebula, a company co-founded by the imperial macher of genomics, George Church. His expertise is collecting and understanding genomes; the blockchain stuff, as he hilariously acknowledged in a Q&A with the journal Science, is somebody else’s problem. “When you have the blockchain you have a trustless mechanism in place, where people know they can verify who’s accessing their data,” says Dennis Grishin, another Nebula co-founder. In other words, a blockchain brings security and trust without centralization. “You don’t need to trust or verify a third-party central authority to take a cut.”
The Nebula team expects that people will get their whole genomes sequenced—by Nebula’s machines or others. Research groups that might want to use any individual’s data can pay those individuals to access it with Nebula tokens purchased from the company. (And people can buy their own sequencing from Nebula with those tokens, too.) Research on the DNA, says Grishin, happens on securely partitioned computers, and the buyers of the data get access to the results.