For many researchers, obtaining access to genetic data can be quite challenging. If they’re seeking to tap into a specific population set, they typically have to recruit subjects into a study, which can be long, arduous, and expensive.
Then there’s the study approval process for tissue samples, including consent from the participants. Next, the samples will need to be sequenced to obtain the genetic data, another expensive step. It is at this point that the researchers can begin connecting together the data they’re seeking from the subjects they recruited.
On the consumer side of the equation, millions of people who have been genetically tested now have access to their own data. This data is then sold by testing companies for research studies, often without the person fully realizing it, or even being compensated for it. In the meantime these companies are making hundreds of millions of dollars off of that data.
Enter Encrypgen, a DNA marketplace that’s on a crusade to upend this prevailing narrative. Their product, Gene-Chain, is a free market ecosystem that allows people who have had genetic testing sell that data directly to researchers, in a simpler, cost-effective, and more profitable way for both parties.
Encrypgen: The Future of Tokenized DNA Marketplaces
The DNA token, used as cryptocurrency on the Encrypgen DNA marketplace, is the foundation of this transaction system. All transactions are immutably captured and retrievable, and payable on the system ensuring frictionless commerce on the platform. Moreover, there is no need to pay fees to any service to conduct payments.
The token is widely available and fungible to other currencies as well, providing users with a way to get paid or pay for data without worrying about credit card forms or other complex, costly payment systems online.
Asked to describe how blockchain is integrated into the inner workings of Encrypgen, founder and CEO Dave Koepsell had this to say:
“Currently it stores metadata about the user and completes transactions. There are significant barriers to doing more for now, such as putting the genomic data itself on a blockchain, due to regulatory and privacy issues, especially in Europe.”
Koepsell says that this involves keeping an eye on tech such as IPFS (Interplanetary File System) and looking at how, in the future, blockchains can be used for the data itself, which would be great, he says, if it can scale well and not compromise privacy. He believes that the future will demand that genomic blockchains be able to process the data, thus the reason for this being the target of their design efforts in the future.
Forward Acceleration Into The Future
Partnerships with DNA and health service related product and service providers are a key strategic element of Encrypgen’s progression moving forward.
“Our partners who provide testing and other services all agree with our philosophy of putting the user in control and letting them profit. Forward-thinking companies like these are asking to work with us because they want to see the de-monopolization of data and a future in which individuals are in full control and profit from their data. Over time, the range of companies in the genomic space choosing to work with us and aligned with our point of view will doubtless continue to grow, especially as users continue to demand more control and ownership of their data in general.”
Another recent advancement supporting Encrypgen’s rapid trajectory is their website redesign. Notes Koepsell:
“We greatly simplified the experience on our site and more people are signing up and becoming users as a result. Our traffic has increased significantly and usability appears to have improved, based upon use-metrics. In the meantime, we are still exploring how to make the platform more friendly, but even there we are seeing a lot of people interact with it positively.”
Koepsell, in particular, is very excited by the new custom survey feature that allows researchers to seek more info from those from whom they have bought data, and eventually to further pay them for that. This, he says, will make the ongoing interaction between users and researcher more rewarding while further enabling better data collection and scientific discovery.
In terms of the roadmap for EncrypGen over the next 12-18 months, Koepsell had this to offer
“This coming year we will release a new B2B product as part of our Microsoft Startup partnership, and this will involve some of our other partners as well. This means we will be listed on the Microsoft Store, which will give us greater reach and visibility. Moreover, we are part of a research consortium that will investigate the use of genomic data in personalized medicine.”
He says that this a huge partnership for Encrypgen and having the Memorandum of Understanding in hand now for that research consortium means that their efforts will gain tens of thousands of new users essentially for free, on top of those we are gaining through our marketing.
He concludes: “Since we will be profitable at between 35k and 50k users, this is great news for us and we are looking forward to the start of that study.”
Managing Editor Michael Scott is a renowned blockchain journalist with a strong passion for the new digital economy. Prior to his career in media, he spent 10+ years serving leadership posts in healthcare, including UC Davis Medical Center institutional review board. Michael has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from The Ohio State University and a Master of Public Administration in Health Services Administration from the University of San Francisco.