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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14 Clinical OMICs March/April 2018 tors and customers. A nonprofit organized around a disease can easily put out a call to its members to become contribu- tors in order to advance research into that disease. Likewise, these foundations raise money for research and are often looking for partners in discovery to improve treatments. "Luna solves an interesting problem for these patient com- munities. They are not going to have the resources to build a database and mine that data for answers. Luna can fill in that gap," Barry said. Like some of its competitors, Luna plans to supplement each individual's genomic data with lifestyle and other health-related information. "Our aim is to build the largest human health database," Barry said. Eventually, the data- base will include data from wearable devices. "Disease is the manifestation of genetics combined with lifestyle, nutri- tion, and environment. As a research community, we hav- en't put those pieces together at scale." One of Luna's competitors, EncrypGen, will allow users to choose to include metadata about themselves, including lifestyle and phenotype data, said its CEO and co-founder, David Koepsell. Luna DNA has gotten the attention of many in the indus- try because its key players, like Barry, are well known in the genomics industry. Stanford professor Carlos Bustamante was inspired to join the company's advisory board by his former collaborator, Bob Kain, a former chief engineering officer at Illumina. "Bob is an incredible visionary in the biotech space," said Bustamante, chair of biomedical data sciences at Stanford. Before approached by Luna, Bustamante had already spent a year thinking hard about block- chain and its potential to enable data markets in Big Data and medicine, and he was eager to join. Like Barry, he predicted the early adopters will be direct-to-consumer sequencing customers—the self-quantifiers who are also addicted to wearable fitness devices. "You see the movement happen- ing. It has created communities that value that information. Health care data is valuable. People are going to want to control it. There is going to be a need to incentivize it. It's the right thing to do and it will be the basis of the new healthcare system," he said. A new healthcare system is needed, Bustamante noted, because the United States spends $10,000 per person on healthcare, while most use less than $1,000 in healthcare services per year. "And, the fact is we get terrible returns for that money," he said. The new healthcare system he described would be one based on wellness programs and personalized medicine tailored to individuals using their (continued from previous page) Banking on Blockchain Without blockchain technology, it is unlikely researchers could hope to realize the full potential of genomic data—at least not as quickly, said David Koepell, CEO and co-founder of Florida-based EncrypGen. "It provides guaranties of data integrity, allowing val- idation of transactions, enhanced security against hacking due to consensus algorithms, payment systems for transactions through devices like our DNA token, and enhanced privacy due to mili- tary grade encryption standards," Koepell said. "Blockchains like our Gene-Chain, are now ready for beta testing and soon will be populated with growing datasets, ensuring better access, privacy, and distribution of data using existing technologies, and provid- ing means of tracking and payments." The general public doesn't need to understand the intricacies of blockchain to know the technology will make their data more secure. Still, a basic understanding of blockchain is necessary for those in the personalized medicine and genomics industries. Sim- ply put, a blockchain is a data structure on which time-stamped, verifiable transactions are placed and shared with authorized us- ers in a network. The power of a blockchain comes from its net- works. Big networks provide security by making the blockchain immutable. That's because the ledger of transactions is distribut- ed to the network. Each node has a copy of the ledger. Any alter- "Luna solves an interesting problem for these patient communities. They are not going to have the resources to build a database and mine that data for answers. Luna can fill in that gap." —Dawn Barry, president, Luna DNA Westend61 / Getty Images

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