Imagine a world in which genetic diseases had no cure. This was the reality only some time ago. However, the coming of genomics has opened to us the portal of our own genetic data through which we can find diagnosis and treatment of several genetic diseases.
Genomic techniques are increasingly being used to profile the genetic information of individuals for determining their susceptibility to certain diseases and providing, in the meantime, treatment through personalized medicines.
But some problems still lurk on the horizon, as the need for technology is felt which could efficiently handle data without compromising privacy and security.
Genetic Data and the Problems Associated With It
To fully understand the problems associated with genetic data and the implications of a blockchain-based solution, we first need to understand the term itself.
The human genome is composed of approximately 3 billion base pairs, which generate data of about 1.5GB. Now, genomic mapping helps scientists and medical health professionals in better understanding diseases caused by genetic disorders. But the inability to properly handle such large amounts of data has always been a hindrance to this.
Soon after the completion of the human genome project, getting one’s genome sequenced and genetic information profiled, became within the reach of the masses. Technological advances have led to an increase in the total number of such profiles, which has further created massive volumes of data which is presently too complex and too large to be handled effectively.
Such complexities have created issues related to security, privacy, and access. It is perhaps natural to immediately think of a blockchain solution that can combat all the three problems easily.
How Can Blockchain Revolutionize Genomic Mapping?
By its very definition, blockchain is a ledger technology on which data is stored in the form of blocks. The data becomes a part of a decentralized network that can be distributed between various parties. Anyone in the world can gain access to it by receiving authorization. This practically eliminates the problem of storage and access.
Furthermore, the users would be able to control their own data. This would protect their privacy and indiscriminate data sharing would be stopped. Once data is stored on the blockchain, it cannot be changed or tampered with, thus providing high security to the users.
In case a user wants to sell his genomic data to a buyer like pharma or research companies, blockchain provides a direct interaction between them, making the transaction free of third-parties.
Startups Exploring the Potential of Blockchain in Genomic Mapping
Zenome: Zenome defines itself as the first decentralized Internet of genomic data and services. It uses blockchain to help create a fair market for genetic information. It aims to give power back to the users who have been giving others access to their data without even realizing it. The founder of the company maintains that this way not only the pharma and research companies benefit, but also users get a greater hold over their privacy and rightful ownership of genetic data.
DNAtix: DNAtix is a biotech company based in Israel that allows DNA data exchange between two individuals. They believe that they are creating new possibilities for individuals to participate in research and contribute information about their DNA by staying anonymous. They also claim that this would be the safest genetics available on the planet since all existing tests compromise privacy.
Expanse: Helping You Safeguard a Treasure for Tomorrow
When it comes to the data generated by genomic mapping, companies in the United States are already pioneering the field. Europe is also stepping in slowly. However, many countries in other parts of the world are still to witness the magic of the science of genetics combined with the technology of blockchain.
To help you get started with bringing this to other corners of the globe, Expanse provides you with a highly scalable platform based on Ethereum on which you would be able to create dApps for solutions to everyday problems. And perhaps helping development in health and research is the best reason to begin in a time when the world battles a deadly and persistent virus.