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Luna DNA, a Blockchain-Funded Community Genomic Project

genomic project
Blockchain tech continues to change the way companies conduct business, including the healthcare industry. Cryptocurrency gives businesses and potential investors a new way to offer and hold “shares” in a company. By redefining the boundaries between traditional investments and other ways of measuring value, ICO (Initial Coin Offerings) and similar blockchain-based investments are changing the way healthcare receives funding.

Enter Luna DNA, another interesting turn in the healthcare industry.

Blockchain-based genomic research with Luna DNA

Luna DNA is “a genomic and medical research database powered by blockchain.” Luna DNA takes a community-based approach to gathering and sharing medical data. Traditional medicine often takes samples and other information while giving little back, a state of affairs heavily criticized for example in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, where despite having their mother’s cells used throughout modern medicine, the children and other relatives received nothing in return. While medical laws try to protect individuals from unwanted medical procedures and breaches of privacy, these laws can also act against the interests of people, giving no or little incentive to contribute their DNA and medical information. Luna DNA strives to undo this unbalance by giving community members Luna Coins, digital currency, in exchange for sharing their information. This give and take system then entitles recipients to receive assistance information in turn.

Roots in Genomic Research

Luna DNA has its roots in genomic research, where useful information often depends on a cross-section of samples. Without samples to compare, genomic research quickly becomes irrelevant, even impossible. CEO and Co-Founder Bob Kain and President and Co-Founder Dawn Barry both have roots in Illumina, a global genomics company working in everything from healthcare to agriculture. While working at Illumina and in other industry-related positions, Barry and Kain saw firsthand the benefits of genomics together with the challenges facing researchers and consumers alike. They wanted to find some way to incentivize individuals to share their information, because the more information available, the better the research results. The better the research results, the more consumers should be able to expect in return. Thus, Luna DNA was born.

Why Blockchain?

Cryptocurrency like Bitcoin and Luna DNA’s Luna Coins represent a new way to hold and keep data secure. In the case of Luna Coins, the community invests, members of community hold their coins, and this information is available to all parties, keeping business transparent while keeping each individual member’s information secure. In many ways, a business like Luna DNA is a prime example of when and why cryptocurrency is so important. You want everyone (at least everyone in the community) to help guard your data, so that it will be impossible for someone to counterfeit or change what you have stored in your ledger. At the same time, you want the details including your ownership to be kept private via privileged encryption, so that not just anyone can see the details.

Considering the stated aim of Luna DNA, to hold highly personal information in a shared database where everyone benefits in a mutually understood way, blockchain is the perfect technology partner for this mission. Luna DNA successfully raised $2 million dollars in ICO capital last year. On a practical level as well as a symbolic one, blockchain works for this business.

Blockchain and the Future of Healthcare

Looking ahead to the future of Luna DNA, of Luna Coins, and blockchain tech in general, one can see a trend developing, a trend toward decentralized funding and greater community involvement on all levels. As healthcare continues to become more consumer-driven, with secure medical records access online and on-demand, funding and investing will have to evolve keep up. Only time will tell, of course, but savvy companies and savvy investors will do well to pay attention these and other opportunities as they arise. Times are definitely changing.