Human DNA strands
Strands of human DNA. Image via Wikimedia Commons

Veterans of San Diego-based Illumina are backing an open-source genomics database that uses the same technology employed by Bitcoin.

Luna DNA, a genomics and medical research database using blockchain technology, announced receiving $2 million in seed funding Monday from individual investors and former Illumina executives.

The San Diego-based startup is a public benefit corporation empowering people to own and share their genomic information for medical research. Individuals will be given “Luna Coins” for contributing data. The coins are part of a blockchain and will have real monetary value while preserving privacy.

“While personal DNA testing continues to rise in popularity, currently these data are siloed, hindering genomic discovery,” said Dr. David Barker, former chief scientific officer at Illumina and an advisor to the new company. “What makes Luna DNA unique is its consumer empowerment through offering reward and ownership for providing genomic data, which will be used to back scientific research.”

The Illumina veterans involved also include Bob Kain, former chief engineering officer, and Scott Kahn, former chief information officer. Kain serves as CEO of the new company.

A blockchain is a continuously increasing list of data records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography to ensure accuracy. Bitcoin uses blockchain technology to record transactions.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.