Don’t start rolling your eyes just yet. I know that blockchain technology is suggested as the savior to everything. However, in the world of genetic testing, it’s becoming a genuinely viable solution to a problem that is showing no signs of getting any better.
Genetic testing is one of the most powerful tools that we have as a species, but it’s also an industry that is fraught with data leaks and other such problems.
With DNA sequencing now a fully affordable solution, more and more people are getting involved with it. However, the question has to be asked – how will that data be used in the first place? How will the medical industry use our genetic data to help make the world a better place?
Privacy, of course, is the next big challenge. We look at the world and we see the increase of data and the drop-off of privacy becoming a major problem. Genetic testing, then, is no different: so how could we make a genetic testing industry that is both affordable and private?
According to the CEO of Geneyx, David Yizhar, the solution is going to be a blockchain technology offer. Stressing that it offers the security and anonymity that is needed to help keep genetic tasting data safe, this could be the bespoke solution that the industry has been crying out for.
As Yizhar says, they want to make genomic data available without having to put people’s privacy at needless risk. The hope is that, by using the data of your own genomes, you could hunt down people who suffer from the same condition as you – anonymously at first. It might help those with rare genetic mutations to find treatments in other parts of the world.
The challenge is making sure that it’s sliced up into enough tiny screeds of data as to be more or less impossible to take over. This means that if one piece of data was collected, it could never be enough for a hacker or leaker to be able to trace the source of the data itself.
At present, genome data is secured in the one location, on a single local server. For a hacker, that’s a piece of cake to get around. Though Geneyx has around 50,000 genomes at the moment, they want to get to 100,000 before they can start to use it to anything like its full potential.
For now, though, it’s certainly a good and honest idea. Many people feel unsure about giving out their contact details online: it’s then much harder to convince someone to give out their genetic data. So, if this system managed to show a safer and more trustworthy way of making this work, more people would likely take part.
It’s all a bit carrot and stick at the moment. If genome testing could become a safer experience, and more anonymous, people would take part. With a blockchain-style solution, though, that might not be so far off now.