Blockchain Genome Data Platform Planned By South Korean Biotech Giantbr>
South Korean biotech firm Macrogen is building a blockchain platform that would facilitate the transfer and storage of genome-wide data.
Macrogen is a public biotechnology company located in Seoul. The company focuses on providing research services to other firms engaged in biotechnology research and development. Its commercialization of technologies and ongoing research and development have earned it the distinguished reputation as Korea’s leading biotechnology company and a global genetic analysis specialist. It has about 18,000 lab customers in 153 countries.
In a press release on Monday, Macrogen said that it is working with South Korean big data firm Bigster to develop a blockchain network to enhance security of personal genome information management and handle large volumes of data reliably. The two companies plan to complete the platform by June 2019.
Macrogen said genomic data, which carries critical information about a person’s biological makeup, could enable doctors to customize their patients’ diagnoses and treatment plans. The pharmaceutical industry can also use it for the development of new drugs and therapeutic agents.
Despite the high utilization value of DNA data within healthcare, data sharing in human genomics is a multifaceted challenge. Ethical considerations for use combined with the uniqueness of the genome of an individual require special precautions to enable sharing while protecting data privacy.
“Despite the fact that genomic data is widely used, it has not been easy to share it because of the problem of personal information protection,” said Yang Kap-seok, CEO of Macrogen. “With the blockchain platform we seek to build this time, we expect to create an ecosystem that can freely distribute genetic data.”
The firms’ envisioned platform will operate on a “private blockchain” in which only selected parties, such as pharmaceutical firms, research institutes, hospitals and genetic analysis startups, can participate. Macrogen believes this model would be “easy to expand and manage.”