Nebula Genomics Prepares to Sell a Valuable Dataset: You

In partnership with startup Longenesis, Nebula Genomics marketplace will be decentralized, encrypted and compliant with GDPR. (Credit: University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability/ Flickr)

People’s medical and health history might become more than just a blueprint for doctor’s actions, now that Harvard Medical School start-up Nebula Genomics, and Hong Kong-based Longenesis are partnering up. 

Nebula Genomics and Longenesis announced a couple of weeks back that they’re partnering to create a new blockchain-based marketplace that will market and sell genomic, clinical and health record data.

Nebula Genomics, co-founded by genomics pioneer George Church of Harvard University is already known for seeking to lead the genomic data market by utilizing blockchain, the technology that underlies transactions of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. 

Longenesis, launched by bioinformatics expert and anti-ageing researcher Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov, has had similar goals as Nebula to create such a marketplace. However, Longenesis has initially been focusing on clinical data. 

“Our platforms complement one another very well,” George Church said in a statement. 

If the partnership succeeds, consumers will be able to visit the website of the marketplace — Nebula Genomics — where they can enter test results (either self-reported or from a lab), electronic health records or clinical data. The consumer will also be offered a genome testing service, where they get sent a collection kit and returns a genomic sequencing, which can be available to the marketplace.


Nebula Genomics co-founder Kamal Obbad said a public beta is expected to be released by the end of summer, with both a consumer and enterprise version, reports MarTech Today. 

The consumer data will be anonymized, Obbad told MarTech, and consumers will grant consent that is compliant with GDPR. 

Of course, it might be impossible to anonymize a genomic sequence, since that is literally what defines an individual, Obbad continued. But, all the health data is encrypted, and the owner of the data possesses one of the two required keys, he noted. 

Longenesis and Nebula claim that their work will establish the fields of “microdataeconomics” — which they refer to as the “study of the value of life data that is used for drug discovery such as proteomics or data regarding the structure and activity of specific molecules, both in vitro and in vivo“, — and macrodataeconomics.” 

The described the latter as the “study of the value of life data that is used to determine human health such as electronic health records and genomics.” 

Other companies in the field are Luna DNA, which is a genomic and medical research knowledge base powered by blockchain technology, and owned by its community. Luna is backed by several Illumina veterans, and was pointed out among direct competitors by Obbad. 

You also have EncrypGen, who has 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. 

Another ‘newbie’ is the start-up, X Genomics, which revealed its X Genomics Human Variant Genome Project earlier this month. The project aims to bring together genome specialists to build a genetic data chain powered by the blockchain.