Blockchain startup partners with Nebula Genomics to make genomic data private
Oasis Labs and Nebula Genomics have teamed up to create a blockchain-based platform that will let Nebula’s customers have full control over the accessibility of their data. Both, a startup developing smart contract technology and a genetic sequencing startup have their focus set on preserving customer privacy.
Oasis Labs was founded by The University of California computer scientist Dawn Song and is backed by a16z Crypto as well as numerous other crypto-focused investment funds. The firm has developed a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain that uses secure enclave hardware that keeps data confidential in use.
Nebula, which was established by a Harvard genetics professor George Church in 2016, aims at providing affordable genomic sequencing whilst ensuring complete privacy of customer data.
Although the cost of generation genetic sequencing has dropped dramatically in the past two decades, many patients have remained reluctant to avail of this opportunity. According to Nebula CEO and co-founder Kamal Obbad, the main reason behind this hesitation is the lack of trust in personal genetics companies to keep their personal information private. In the past couple of years, we've heard of companies like 23andMe and Ancestry.com deliberately leaking their customers’ genetic data to third parties.
Nebula has been always seeking to differentiate itself within the market with data privacy and security safeguards. As for now, Nebula's customers can get their genome sequenced without revealing their identity to the company, however, since the very launch date the company's goal has been to give users full ownership of their data by employing blockchain technology.
"Oasis's smart contract platform will give users fine-grained control over who has permission to access their data, and they will be able to share that information with genomic researchers while keeping it confidential", stated Obbad. “Nebula will never store your plaintext DNA <...> This protects not only the user but also the researcher", he added. “Now they don’t have to deal with all the regulatory overhead of dealing with identifying information.”
Earlier on, Nebula Genetics had plans to launch their native token but it's no longer on their to-do list. However, Obbad confirmed that in the long run, the company is planning to enable cryptocurrency micropayments for users willing to profit from their data.