Rare Daily Staff

Nebula Genomics, in what it is calling a first in direct-to-consumer genomics, is offering to sequence individual’s whole genomes for free if they share their data.

The personal genomics company said that it is building a genomic and health data marketplace for consumers, researchers, and the medical community. Through the use of blockchain and encryption technologies, it said technology consumers are able to maintain anonymity and control of their data while being compensated for its use.

The Nebula platform will aggregate a critical mass of genetic information that researchers can analyze in order to accelerate drug development, streamline clinical trials, and advance development of personalized medicine. The company was founded by Harvard genomics pioneer George Church, along with Harvard researchers Dennis Grishin and Kamal Obbad.

Individuals who are interested in getting sequenced can answer health-related questions, which will earn them Nebula credits. These credits can be redeemed for personal genome sequencing and a variety of other offerings. Individuals who share information about their health will also have the chance to attract researchers who, to access their genomic data, will pay their sequencing costs. Personal genome sequencing can also be purchased directly starting at $99, which will provide an analysis of ancestry and inherited traits.

“This is the first step in realizing a world in which individuals control and are compensated or use of their genetic data by medical researchers,” says George Church, co-founder of Nebula Genomics, professor at Harvard Medical School and MIT. “Through the Nebula Genomics marketplace that we are building, individuals will be compensated for making their genetic Information available, and only to research institutions of their choice. Nebula will produce the data researchers have been waiting for in their search for curative breakthroughs, higher rates of disease prevention, and dramatic advances in personalized medicine.”

Unlike most other personal genomics companies, Nebula Genomics uses next-generation sequencing that reads out the whole genome and generates thousands of times more data than other technologies. As a result, Nebula said it will provide its users a more accurate interpretation of their genetic information and will give researchers access to more comprehensive genomic datasets that are far more useful in identifying genetic variants that cause diseases and discovering new drug targets.

“We want people to feel comfortable about personal genome sequencing by enabling data sharing in a secure, transparent and equitable manner,” said Kamal Obbad, CEO and co-founder of Nebula Genomics. “For far too long, companies offering genetic analysis have asked consumers to simply give away their valuable genomic data, and then have sold it without their knowledge. By taking this entirely new approach to data ownership, transparency, and data privacy, we are going to change the way that genetic information is shared.”


November 15, 2018
Photo: George Church, co-founder of Nebula Genomics, professor at Harvard Medical School and MIT