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Blockchain Company Suggests That Consumers Should Monetize Their DNA Data, but Will It Catch On?

TimiHealth will be launching TimiDNA, a blockchain ecosystem that will allow individuals to upload their DNA data and potentially sell it to health companies looking to use it to develop new drugs.

Blockchain Company Suggests That Consumers Should Monetize Their DNA Data, but Will It Catch On?

By: Sarah Hand, M.Sc.

Posted on: in News | Life Science News

TimiHealth, a part of blockchain company Timicoin, thinks consumers should have the ability to protect and monetize their own DNA data that they receive from genetic testing companies like 23andMe. In pursuit of this goal, the company will be launching TimiDNA, a blockchain ecosystem that will allow individuals to upload their DNA data and potentially sell it to health companies looking to use it to develop new drugs.

“Why pay companies like 23andMe to profit twice over from your DNA data when TimiHealth’s goal is to empower you – the actual source of this valuable genetic information – to profit?” asks Timicoin/TimiHealth’s, founder Will Lowe. “We imagine a blockchain ecosystem that pays you to collect your DNA data, pays you for providing access to your data, and potentially provides profit sharing opportunities if your data leads to new blockbuster drugs.”

The launch of TimiDNA follows the announcement that UK-based drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) would be using genetic data collected by 23andMe to develop novel therapies and recruit patients into clinical trials in a deal worth $300 billion. While TimiHealth said DNA testing companies used “misleading marketing” to get consumers to use their services while collecting data to selling to big pharma companies, 23andMe has reported that about 80 percent of their five million users have consented to have their data used for research purposes.

Still, TimiHealth maintains that the health data was sold to GSK “under the guise of research purposes and making scientific discoveries,” despite the fact that many consumers thought that the DNA testing service was meant to give them individualized health information on their susceptibility to inherited diseases, among other things.

TimiHealth also criticizes these DNA testing companies’ mission statements, which fail to mention the collection of genetic data for future use by pharmaceutical companies, and instead focuses on what a person’s DNA can tell them about their health. However, the company does disclose this information in their privacy statements, and as a company with effectively two revenue streams – selling the DNA testing service to consumers and selling that data to companies – it’s understandable that they’d use different messaging depending on which side of their business they were trying to develop.

In contrast, TimiHealth says their mission statement for TimiDNA is transparent and helps consumers know exactly what will happen to their data.

“We will tokenize your health and DNA data,” says the mission statement. “We will protect your data with blockchain technology. We will empower you to fully control who sees your personal data and to determine how it is used. And, we will allow you to monetize your data and receive the majority share of the profits, as you deserve.”

According to a press release, TimiHealth plans to announce partnerships with undisclosed DNA organizations in the near future which will help them further their mission of supporting consumers who wish to monetize their genetic data. The TimiDNA platform will be launched on August 20, 2018 at the blockchain tradeshow Blockshow in Las Vegas Nevada.

“We are also developing capabilities with service partners to provide all of the same services as existing genomic companies, but with the additional security of blockchain technology and control over permissioning rights to share data as you see fit. We know empowering consumers is going to be a disruptive force in the genomic landscape, and we are proud to be the leader in this movement,” said Joyce Lignell, Chairwoman of TimiHealth’s Advisory Board.


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