Nebula Genomics is a platform building on Blockstack for people to sequence, store, and sell their genomics data. The cost of sequencing one’s personal genome has been steadily dropping over the past two decades and could reach as low as $100, even while using more advanced sequencing techniques than those available on the existing consumer market. This will lead to an explosion of genomic data, and with it, a new frontier of research and medicine. At present, the prevailing model for this involves intermediaries, like 23andme or ancestry.com, sequencing individual genome data and reselling it to interested companies with weak guarantees of privacy. Nebula Genomics offers an array of technologies permitting users to store their own raw genomics data, get these data processed securely in a distributed computing environment, collect and store phenotype data (observable characteristics) that would make associated genomics data much more valuable, and ultimately sell access to the data to companies and academic institutions. The project is lead by acclaimed Harvard Genomics Professor Dr. George Church and several other researchers.
In the Nebula Genomics ecosystem, users retain access to and ownership of their own raw genomics data and can store these on local devices, in the cloud, on IPFS, or any other medium. Nebula Genomics itself serves as the primary sequencer to produce raw genomics data, though users could also bring raw data to the network from another processor. The Blockstack protocol is used to index the locations of these data throughout the network and control third-party access; Blockstack then stores a hash of its data to the Ethereum network. The Nebula Genomics ecosystem is designed to facilitate discovery of genomics data available for sale using smart contract-based surveys so that buyers, such as pharmaceutical companies, could both find who in the network has specific genomic and other data available and potentially incentivize users to add relevant data.
To ease data transfer and facilitate distributed computation, the network imposes a set of data standards particularly relevant to genomics data, which can take up to 200 GB even in its raw form. Nebula also proposes a method of secure trustless computation that would allow genomics data buyers to ultimately access only the part of the genomics data they are interested in, without revealing *all* the underlying raw genomics data. Users could also utilize this secure computation through third-party applications built on the network, such as by granting an app limited access to genomics data for purposes of providing daily health tips. Nebula Genomics acts as a KYC provider to verify the identity of data buyers, partly for trust and partly to help investigate the resale of data off-chain, which would violate purchase agreements.
The Nebula token is the sole means of payment for genomics data and genomics data computation. Data buyers can purchase tokens on the open market, then pay users for their genomics data. Users also pay for sequencing and secure remote computation using tokens. As of 2020, token supply information had not been finalized and announced.