NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Genomic and medical research startup Luna DNA, which offers a custom cryptocurrency to reward individuals for sharing their biological and medical information, said today that Illumina Ventures and Arch Venture Partners have become investors in the firm, leading a new round of funding.
Bridgelink Capital, Hemisphere Ventures, and former Human Genome Project leader Aristides Patrinos, who now sits on the Luna DNA advisory board, also participated in the investment round. While San Diego-based Luna did not specify the size of this funding, the company did say it has raised $4 million since its inception. At the time it emerged from stealth mode in December, Luna announced that it had closed a $2 million seed round.
"Luna DNA will accelerate important medical discoveries by putting individuals at the center of a cooperative effort to aggregate and organize a community-owned repository of longitudinal health data," Illumina Ventures Founding Partner Nick Naclerio said in a statement.
Luna, which calls itself a public benefit corporation, relies on blockchain technology for security, data fluidity, 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, which the company has said have "real monetary value." Luna officials expect pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and other researchers to purchase Luna Coins in order to access aggregated data from specific cohorts of patients.