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Genomics companies are interested in NFTs

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 Genomics companies are interested in NFTs in to boost precision medicine.


Genomics companies are interested in NFTs


GeneNFTs could be a game-changer for genomic testing, but user training is still required for this model to progress.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are expected to have a major impact on society. Given this, it should come as no surprise that the trillion-dollar healthcare industry is starting to explore NFT tokens to advance medicine.

It is also important to note that blockchain technology may play an increasingly important role in the healthcare industry. This was highlighted recently by the European Union Blockchain Observatory in a report documenting specifically how blockchain applications can solve the challenges facing the healthcare industry.

For example, the paper notes that the efficient distribution of information and data, as well as transparency about patient participation and how data is stored, remains problematic for the healthcare industry. Still, as the blockchain space continues to advance, tokenization in the form of non-tradable tokens could serve as a solution to the many challenges facing the healthcare industry today.


GeneNFTs aims to revolutionize precision medicine

Precision medicine, for those unfamiliar with the phrase, is "a developing approach to the treatment and prevention of diseases that takes into account each person's particular variability."According to the Precision Medicine Initiative, "genes, environment, and lifestyle" are all factors.

Specifically, Cao believes that tokenizing genetic profiles can help patients maintain data ownership and transparency of their information while reaping many benefits not typically associated with traditional genomic testing. He explained:

Tokenize genomic profiles, for example, Genetica, a genomics firm covering the Asia-Pacific area, recently teamed with Oasis Labs, a Web3 data management provider. Tuan Cao, CEO, and co-founder of Genetica told Cointelegraph that the purpose of this partnership is to advance precision medicine by giving patients ownership and rights to data through GeneNFT.

“This is possibly one of the world's most important NFT applications." This is arguably one of the most significant NFT uses ever. Our genetic profile is one-of-a-kind, and it requires an NFT to represent it. GeneNFTs are a symbolic representation of their genetic information. As a result, every one of us may take full control of and benefit from our data input.


For example, Cao explained that Genetica's partnership with Oasis Labs allows users to perform a conventional genetic test and then receive a GeneNFT that represents true ownership of their genetic profile. More importantly, Cao noted that GeneNFT owners have become a steward of their data, which means they must grant access to third-party organizations that want to use that information. finalized:

“A user who owns a GeneNFT also holds the private key to that data. For example, if a pharmaceutical company wants to conduct a genetic study, it must submit an offer of access. A user can then sign the offer to confirm access.

Cao also explained that there are financial and medical benefits associated with GeneNFTs. "Financial benefits include revenue sharing, so users are paid when third parties request access to their data. We can automatically process these payments through blockchain technology and smart contracts," Cao said.

The medicinal benefits of GeneNFTs, according to Cao, outweigh the financial incentives. "A smart contract is employed when users join in a genetic study to ensure that patients who contribute to a clinical trial receive therapy first." Drug profiles with precision for the treatment of specific diseases based on genetic variants are how this model ultimately advances precision medicine," he said.

Dawn Song, the founder of Oasis Labs, told Cointelegraph that GeneNFTs can be considered immutable data-driven tokens. "While most people think of NFTs as JPEG photos, data-driven NFTs leverage blockchain and private computing to use specific data while conforming to data usage laws like the European Union's." privacy regulations, data or GDPR,” he said. Technically speaking, Song explained that Genetica will use Oasis Network's Plot, a privacy-preserving data governance application programming interface (API) to specify genomic profiles. She clarified:



Given that genomes are the core of individuals' identity, it is critical that any 
platform that stores and processes genomic data ensure the confidentiality of data at rest, in motion, and most importantly in a transaction. Parcel provides these capabilities through data at rest and data in motion encryption and reliable runtimes to protect the privacy of data in use.
Song explained that given the size of genomic data and the complexity of the computations performed on it, Parcel's use of off-chain storage and secure off-chain execution environments enables it to store and analyze genomic data.The package also provides a policy framework that data owners, or people who own their genomes, may use to decide who can use their data and for what purposes," he noted. Oasis Lab's technology has enabled the tokenization of 30,000 genomic profiles to date, and the partnership with Genetica will increase that number to 100,000.


The healthcare industry is already using tokenization

While NFTs is an emerging concept for the healthcare industry, it's worth recognizing that tokenization (in a completely different sense from NFT) is becoming more commonplace as patient privacy becomes critical.

For example, seqster, a healthcare technology company founded in 2016, provides tokenized data to meet privacy needs in the healthcare industry. seqster CEO and Founder Ardy Arianpour told Cointelegraph that the company symbolizes a variety of patient data for healthcare providers, including genomic DNA data:



According to Arianpour, tokenization in this context is necessary to prevent the disclosure of a patient's personal health information without their express consent, which would be a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). On the other hand, Arianpour explained that while tokenization is useful, it is not always necessary. "In some settings, such as clinical trials, the sponsoring organization may create a 'subject_id' that uniquely identifies the patient. This identifier can be shared within their organization or with partners without revealing the patient's true identity. This is the standard used in a more common clinical trial field and also meets FDA compliance," he said.

Datavant, a health data company, has also leveraged tokenization to ensure patient information is private yet accessible. McKinsey & Company recently did an interview with Pete McCabe, CEO of Datavant, where he explained how tokenization is being used.

According to McCabe, Datavant describes tokenization as "an advanced, patent-pending anonymity technology that replaces private patient information with an encrypted token that cannot be reverse-engineered to reveal the original information." McCabe added that in this context, tokenization means that "patient-specific tokens can be created on any dataset, which means that two different datasets can now be combined to match corresponding records using the patient's tokens, without ever sharing the underlying patient information."


  • While it is noteworthy that NFTs are beginning to be implemented in healthcare, a number of challenges may hinder adoption. For example, Robert Chu, co-founder, and CEO of Embleema, a data platform for personalized medicine, explained in the European Blockchain Observatory's health report that data should be anonymized. To comply with HIPAA. But the Chu explained that this gets tricky when only a few patients are included in the dataset:
  • “In this example, it may not be possible for any method to fully anonymize the data. So, should we ban all research on rare diseases, even if patients agree to share the identified data? In our opinion, this should not be the case. This example shows that there must be a balance between privacy and innovation.
  • In Chu's view, Cao mentioned that people who use GeneNFT to participate in a clinical trial would receive treatment first if they provided their data. This also means that their data will be identifiable, which can lead to regulatory issues in certain regions such as the United States.
  • Additionally, Cao shared that 90% of Genetica users are not crypto natives. For this reason, Cao believes the biggest challenge for the adoption of GeneNFTs is education. “We need to do extra work to educate nearly all of our users on the benefits of GeneNFTs and how they enable data ownership, accessibility, and use,” he said. Echoing Cao, Song said that user education is indeed the biggest barrier to adoption. "Many users understand what a work of art NFT is, but they are unfamiliar with data-driven NFTs."
  • While this is currently the case, Song believes data-driven NFTs have the potential to transform society as the global economy becomes data-driven. “This approach can grow rapidly, but first we need to get users to better understand this model. Compared to a few years ago, fortunately, user awareness of emerging data protection methods is much higher.”
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