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NFTs for Genome Sharing

Even as more non-fungible tokens are auctioned off and are increasingly dismissed as a fad, Nature News writes that some researchers think it could represent a way for people to profit from temporarily grant others to access to their genomic data.

NFTs rely on blockchain technology, like that used by cryptocurrencies, to provide a certificate of authenticity for a digital object, in many cases art. But in April, Nebula Genomics announced it would be auctioning an NFT of George Church's genome – Harvard's Church is a co-founder of the company – though Nature News notes the company has since switched gears to instead sell artwork of Church and discounts on its services. Meanwhile, the University of California, Berkeley has auctioned an NFT of patent paperwork related to Nobel Prize-winning work from James Allison and plans to do so for work from Jennifer Doudna, after making sure the NFT doesn't infringe on the actual patent, Nature News adds. Similarly, Tim Berners-Lee, the developer of the World Wide Web, announced his own NFT.

As Nature News notes, critics say NFTs are a fad and wasteful due to the large amount of energy needed to fuel the technology. At the same time, it adds that Nebula is treating its NFT offering as a test: The company already uses blockchain technology to temporarily provide users access to its repertoire of genomes, and NFTs could be a way to further monetize the exchange and allow people to profit from sharing their genomic data.

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.