Clinical OMICS

MAR-APR 2018

Healthcare magazine for research scientists, labs, pathologists, hospitals, cancer centers, physicians and biopharma companies providing news articles, expert interviews and videos about molecular diagnostics in precision medicine

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Page 14 of 51 March/April 2018 Clinical OMICs 13 currency, such as Luna Coin and EncrypGen's DNA Token, also enabled by blockchain technology. According to its founders, Luna DNA is the only new blockchain genom- ics company that has been established as a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), making its mission more than just about brokering the sale of individual genetic data. "We're building the first medical and genomic research database that is powered by the blockchain and owned by the community," explained Dawn Barry, Luna's president and co-founder. While Barry and the rest of the team are based in San Diego, Luna DNA is registered as a PBC in Delaware. "As a Public Benefit Corporation, contributing to the greater good is part of our core charter," said Barry, who is also a former executive at sequencing heavyweight Illu- mina. "If there are any discoveries made or monetization of any kind based on research using the database, 100 percent of those proceeds will flow back to the individual partners." Luna DNA, as a partner, will be compensated through plat- form maintenance fees. "We will still be working to maxi- mize shareholder value," Barry said. The PBC designation in Delaware is usually reserved for charities, hospitals, and colleges. According to state law, the legal responsibilities are the same as corporation, but with expanded responsibilities when it comes to purpose, accountability, and transparency. The company must oper- ate in a sustainable manner, balance purpose with share- holder interests, and regularly report to shareholders the impact the company is having with respect to its purpose. Barry said Luna's leadership plans to work hard to create an engaged community of contributors in order to fulfill the 'public good' portion of their PBC. "We think of our con- tributors as true partners," she said. Plans for engagement include publishing newsletters, utilizing social media and email. (Potential contributors can already subscribe to an email list.) This dedication to the greater good and community building will attract contributors to Luna, Barry predicted. "For the most part, other companies are focused on helping individuals make money off of their data. We think people's primary motivation is to contribute to advance medical sci- ence and contribute to health care discoveries. People know their health information could be put to work to help the greater good. They want to be partners," Barry said. Still, the information people provide has inherent value. "They should be rewarded for their contribution." That reward will be paid by customers wanting to use Luna's database via cryptocurrency. "Customers interested in conducting research in the Luna database will purchase Luna Coin through a public exchange to pay for the service, thereby creating an economy between data contributors and pur- chasers," Barry explains. Like all companies operating in the emerging area of blockchain genomics, Luna will have to attract both data contributors and data users. Contributors will be attracted by the trust they can place in blockchain-based technology, by compensation scenarios, and by the chance to have an impact on medical science. Barry said she expects early adopters will be those who have already used popular ser- vices like 23andMe. "Many individuals have already spit in a tube and their data is already sitting somewhere." These individuals will be comforted by the fact that their data will be de-identified and enjoy the control they will have over who uses their data and for what purpose via smart con- tracts enabled by blockchain (see sidebar). Nonprofit foundations can be both a source of contribu- (continued on next page) Rick_Jo / Getty Images

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