by Cindy Huynh
South Korea biotechnology company Macrogen, stated in their press release on Monday, August 6, 2018, that they will join forces with Bigstor, a local data company to create a blockchain-based medical genome data distribution platform.
The use of blockchain technology will help store and transmit large amounts of genomic data, enhance the security of personal genome information, and reliably handle large volumes of genetic data.
Genome information platform built on top of consortium blockchain technology
According to Business Korea, the genome information platform uses the consortium blockchain technology. Macrogen and Bigstor will work together with a network of health professionals including pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, gene-sequencing companies, and research institutions.
A consortium blockchain is a partly private blockchain. Unlike private blockchains, Vitalik Buterin mentioned on the Ethereum blog that consortium blockchains, “provides a hybrid between the low-trust provided by public blockchains and the single highly trusted entity model of private blockchains.”
A consortium blockchain would, therefore, appear like a centralized system with cryptographic auditability attached. While the consortium blockchain limits the participation of the group to several members, for Macrogen and Bigstor, it is straightforward to expand and manage.
In this situation, the use of blockchain technology will ensure high encryption of the information and provide significant data processing capabilities. These factors are essential to take into account gene data is highly sensitive since it carries crucial information concerning someone’s biological makeup and therefore requires high-security measures.
Protecting Personal Information
The Korea Herald reported that the companies plan to finish the platform by June in 2019. They, however, face many competitors since they are not the only company keen to launch a blockchain-based medical platform in South Korea.
However, “ although genomic data is widely used, it has not been easy to distribute and utilize because of the issue of protecting personal information,” said Yang Gap-Seok, the CEO of Macrogen. “We expect to create an ecosystem that can freely distribute big genomic data by building a distribution platform based on the blockchain.”