NEW YORK – LunaDNA, a startup that aimed to provide people control over the use of their genomic data, will shut down Jan. 31, the firm said on its website.
"While this company and platform will not continue, we are proud to have led important changes in recognizing people as partners in therapeutic development and demonstrating the value to industry and researchers of looking beyond the therapy to incorporate a more complete understanding of what’s important to people in terms of the conditions they live with," the firm said.
The demise of the San Diego-based firm is another blow to the idea of using the blockchain and cryptocurrencies to broker the sharing of genomic and personal health data.
LunaDNA launched in 2017, offering so-called "Luna Coins" to people who contributed genetic data to the firm's research database. It raised $2 million in seed funding and included several ex-Illumina executives among its investors, including David Walt, David Barker, and Scott Kahn. In 2019, it raised an additional $4.6 million in funding led by Arch Venture Partners, Bain Capital Ventures, F-Prime Capital, Illumina Ventures, and Osage University Partners.
That same year, the firm pivoted from offering crypto coins to shares in the platform.
LunaDNA was not the only blockchain genomics firm to shift its strategy. Nebula Genomics, cofounded by Harvard Medical School researcher George Church, initially offered a similar concept but now primarily touts a whole-genome sequencing-based consumer genomics product with a focus on ancestry and lifestyle. Nebula was acquired by ProPhase Labs in 2021 for $14.6 million in stock and cash.
What will happen to the genomic data collected by the firm is unclear. It had partnered with several organizations on data, including the University of Vermont Health Network, Medfusion, and the Genetic Alliance.