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LunaDNA will compensate you for your genetic information



LunaDNA Team Dawn Barry
The LunaDNA team.

  • A startup called LunaDNA is taking a new approach to genetic
    research by paying individuals to share their information with
  • Right now, some DNA testing companies already
    sell your genome
    for medical research, though you can
    usually opt out.
  • You probably won’t get rich off your DNA. LunaDNA estimates
    the value of your whole genome at $21, for now.

More and more, researchers are studying individuals’ genetic
information to find new medical treatments.

But a big challenge has been collecting enough information from
enough people to find new cures. A startup called LunaDNA is pioneering a new
approach, offering to pay people for their DNA and other health

Individuals will get shares of LunaDNA for providing their
genetic data, as well as for activities like uploading their
medical records or keeping track of what they eat and how much
they work out. The idea is that the more someone participates,
the more stock they’ll accumulate, and the more they’ll be

“The people we want to attract are looking to solve a problem
together, to help get in the fight against disease,” Dawn Barry,
the company’s president and a co-founder, said in a November
interview. “It’s not so much how much money you want to get back
— people are in it for the altruism.”

DNA testing startups like 23andMe already
sell your genetic information
for medical research, though
you can opt out. Unlike 23andMe, LunaDNA doesn’t provide the
genetic testing itself. Instead, users can upload their files
from companies like 23andMe.

The venture is just getting started. LunaDNA has raised $4
million and employs 12 people. The US Securities and Exchange
Commission signed off this week on LunaDNA’s plans to give
individuals stock, and the company’s web portal where users can
upload their info opened on Wednesday.

LunaDNA wants to give you more control over how your data is
used, and directly compensate you for sharing more. The company
will provide aggregated data to researchers with identifying
information removed, and only with the consent of the individuals
involved. Members can delete their data from the platform at any

Read more:
DNA-testing company 23andMe has signed a $300 million deal with a
drug giant. Here’s how to delete your data if that freaks you

“When value is created, it’s not
all kept by the institution,” Barry said in a December interview.
“It’s actually distributed back to the community.”

DNA Testing 23andMe
A DNA testing

Hollis Johnson/Business

You probably won’t get rich by selling your genetic information.
Unlike stock in a company, the shares that LunaDNA is giving its
users don’t have a monetary value and can’t be bought or sold.
Instead, they’ll give users regular payouts when LunaDNA starts
making money.

Read more:
I’ve taken AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and National Geographic genetics
tests — here’s how to choose one to try

The company
estimates the value
of a user’s whole genome at $21, or 300
shares. It’ll give you 2 shares, worth 14 cents, for 20 days of
nutrition or fitness data. As more users sign on to the site, and
more researchers begin using it, the goal is for those values to
increase, Barry said.

LunaDNA was founded in October 2017 by veterans of the DNA
sequencing company Illumina, and counts Illumina Ventures among

its backers
. Barry, 44, worked at Illumina for a dozen years
and CEO Bob Kain, 57, was an Illumina employee for 15 years. The
third co-founder, chief finance officer David Lewis, 47,
previously worked at an investment company.

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