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Blockchain-Based LunaDNA Picks Up $2M in Seed Funding

CHICAGO (GenomeWeb) – Startup firm LunaDNA, a blockchain-based genomic and medical research company, said late Monday that it has landed $2 million in seed funding.

Several former Illumina executives were among the group of individual investors, including ex-Illumina Chief Information Officer Scott Kahn, Illumina Cofounder David Walt, and Gavin Saitowitz, CEO and cofounder of Prelude Capital. San Diego-based Luna simultaneously announced that Kahn has been named CIO of the startup.

Luna, which calls itself a public benefit corporation, relies on blockchain technology for security and for rewarding those that contribute data to the research database. Individuals who sell their genetic data will receive compensation in a decentralized cryptocurrency called Luna Coins that the company said have "real monetary value," though Luna did not elaborate on how people could spend such currency.

"Understanding the genome and decoding diseases will take the cooperation of a diverse and large community. While personal DNA testing continues to rise in popularity, currently these data are siloed, hindering genomic discovery," said David Barker, a member of Luna's advisory board and former Illumina CSO. "What makes LunaDNA unique is its consumer empowerment through offering reward and ownership for providing genomic data, which will be used to back scientific research."

The Scan

Less Than Half

An effort to reproduce key findings from high-profile preclinical cancer studies finds less than half could be replicated, according to the Scientist.

Still Some SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing Holes

The Wall Street Journal reports that viral genomic surveillance has improved in the US, though says there are still gaps.

Avoiding Passing Them On

People with known disease-linked genetic variants are turning to in vitro fertilization so as to not pass those variants to their children, the Washington Post says.

PNAS Papers on Long Cell-Free DNA in Maternal Plasma, Genetic Propensity for Voting

In PNAS this week: long, cell-free DNA of maternal and fetal origins identified in maternal plasma, and more.