Let me take you back to a deal that took place at the start of 2015, that saw Genentech gain access to California based genomics company, 23andMe’s database of genetic data. 

The deal, reportedly worth $60 million, meant Genentech paid $10m upfront for access to data from around 3,000 individuals, each of which had paid 23andMe to conduct a personalised DNA analysis, with the promise of the remaining $50m over time as and when certain milestones are hit. 

Customers are able to request that their individual data not be shared with any third parties, but the vast majority don’t make this request. Although withdrawing such data from a pool of analysis that has the potential to find new treatments for diseases, could be seen as selfish, the question that should be being asked is: should 23andMe be the ones drawing financial gain from DNA submitted by individuals? Instead, surely it should be the individual who has the option to monetise their own genetic makeup?

However, one company in particular noticed this issue, and over the last twelve months has been developing a solution, writes Global Coin Report.

The end product is company, EncrypGen, who have developed what it calls the Gene-Chain, a blockchain based platform that allows for the storage, searching, buying and selling of genomic data. Individuals can store their data on Gene-Chain completely free of charge and can control it how and when they see fit, by sharing access to it with doctors, for example, or by selling access to it to biotechnology companies for research purposes. 

Database storing of this type though has been risky for an individual in the past. This is largely because of the high security risks, and the fact that there’s no guarantee that an individual that stories their genetic data on a centralised storage system will be able to keep that data from falling into the hands of malicious operators. 

However, with the introduction of blockchain technology, this has all changed. Individuals that submit their data are de-identified, through cryptography, to ensure anonymity, and only they can gain access to the data that’s stored on Gene-Chain. 

It’s important to realise that this is indeed the next logical step to be taking, considering the rapid rise of genome data harvesting and research applications. Companies such as 23andMe have been smart, and collected their data in large numbers, ready to repackage and resell to interested buyers. But, without necessarily considering the individual themselves. 

This is where EncrypGen comes in. They offer individuals a new way to leverage the value of their own DNA and use it beneficially, not just financially but also in terms of potentially improved medical outcomes based on physician access. Definitely one to watch!