A listed biotech giant based in South Korea is turning to the blockchain to allow it to share genetic data without the risk of hacking or violating patient privacy.
Macrogen, a Seoul-based DNA sequencing service provider, said in a press release on Monday that it is working with Bigster, Bigster, to develop a blockchain network for the distribution of genomic information. completion is scheduled for June 2019.
In the medical field, according to the release, genomic data are used for the diagnosis and treatment of personalized patients, while the pharmaceutical industry can use them for the development of new drugs and therapeutic agents.
However, despite the high value of using DNA data within health care, it is not widely shared due to the sensitive nature of information to patients and the risk of violation of privacy.
Yang Kap-seok, CEO of Macrogen, commented in the release:
"Despite the fact that genomic data are widely used, it has not been easy to share them because of the problem of protecting personal information. we try to build this time, we expect to create an ecosystem that can freely distribute genetic data. "
To this end, companies plan a system based on a blockchain model of the consortium that will only allow the invited parties – such as pharmaceutical companies, research institutes, hospitals and startups of genetic analysis – to run as nodes on the decentralized network, limiting who can access the data.
Macrogen is not the only technology giant trying to apply blockchain technology in the genomics industry.  Back in 2014, an Israeli startup called DNA.Bits announced plans to store genetic and medical record data using blockchain technology.
And, as previously reported by CoinDesk, a patent application submitted by Intel has indicated that the hardware company is exploring ways to exploit the energy generated during the extraction of cryptocurrency to sequence the DNA.
DNA sequence image through Shutterstock