In a previous article, we discussed what whole genome sequencing (WGS) was as well as the importance of sequencing your entire genome versus only a small portion. For those of you who have thought about getting a WGS, but are not sure where to turn, you may be considering Dante Labs. But is Dante Labs worth it?
Dante Labs is a genome sequencing company specializing in whole genome sequencing. The company was founded in 2016 by its CEO, Andrea Riposati.
While Dante Labs’s headquarters are in New York City, their laboratory is located in L’Aquila, a town in central Italy. It is unknown whether their laboratory is CLIA-certified or CAP-accredited, the two main credentials held by clinical laboratories in the United States.
|234 5th Ave Ste 413 |
New York, NY 10001-7607
|L’Aquila, IT |
Strada Statale 17 Loc. Boschetto di Pile
67100 L’Aquila AQ, Italy
Another company, Immensa Health Clinic Ltd, also appears in the Terms of Service for Dante’s website. The relationship between Dante Labs and Immensa Health Clinic is currently unknown.
It is unknown if Dante Labs sells or shares its customer’s DNA data, personal data, or any other information with third-parties.
There are increasingly many labs providing WGS services including Dante Labs. They offer whole genome sequencing for around $599 per genome although they often have sales that lower the price to around $499.
Once a person receives their genome sequencing data from Dante Labs, they may charge additional fees for reports, such as a report on nutrition.
When you receive your whole genome sequencing results from Dante Labs, the ‘results’ are provided as very large raw data files. The next step is transforming the raw data into understandable information. To perform this next step, Dante Labs sells DNA reports that are usually $49 per report. These $49 reports are in addition to the price of their whole genome sequencing test. Dante also refers to these reports as ‘panels.’
For example, if you’re interested in personalized nutrition, then the ‘Nutrigenomics Report’ will provide nutrition-focused information about your genome data. This report costs $49.
If you then want information on rare diseases, you may have to purchase multiple reports, such as the Cystic Fibrosis report for $49 and the Cowden Syndrome Report for $49. As an alternative, our Rare Disease Screen analyzes Dante’s genome sequencing data for $19 and includes an analysis of more than 1,000 rare diseases and syndromes.
Dante Labs also offers an ‘All Panels Package’ for $499, which provides access to all of their reports. It is unknown if the $499 package includes on-going updates to the reports. For example, if a report is updated in six months with new analysis, it’s unknown if an additional fee will have to be paid to obtain that updated report.
Dante Labs specializes in a type of genetic testing known as next-generation sequencing. They have offered several different sequencing products since their launch.
- Short-read 30x whole genome sequencing test
- Short-read 130x + 30x whole genome test marketed as ‘Whole GenomeZ’
- Long-read 30x whole genome sequencing marketed as ‘GenomeL’
Dante’s long-read sequencing service used Oxford Nanopore technology. While long-read technology holds a lot of promise for improved detection of some types of genetic variations, such as structural variations, long-read proved to be inferior to short-read for accurately detecting SNPs. Since SNPs are the most common type of genetic variant used in genetic analysis for both health and ancestry, there was limited value in obtaining a long-read genome other than just the ‘cool’ factor.
Bioinformatics processing of raw genome data from long-read sequencing was also much more intensive. For example, DRAGEN software, which Dante Labs uses for their bioinformatics pipeline, is not capable of aligning or calling long-read sequencing data. Because of this, analyzing long-read sequencing data requires custom bioinformatics pipelines, such as Sequencing.com’s Long Read Whole Genome Sequencing Bioinformatics Pipeline.
Dante Labs also offered whole exome sequencing (WES), which sequences about 1% of the genome. Exome sequencing includes sequencing all of the coding regions of a gene, also known as exons. Other regions, such as introns, promoters, enhancers, and gene deserts are skipped so WES does not obtain any data for these regions.
Due to the declining cost of whole genome sequencing and the very low cost of DNA testing using microarrays, the value of WES is quickly dissipating. While it isn’t known why Dante Labs stopped offering their exome sequencing test, it’s assumed to be due to the declining price of WGS. After all, why sequence 1% of your genome when you can now sequence 100% of it for around $100 more.
In 2018, Dante Labs offered a DNA microarray test. This is the same testing technology used by 23andMe, Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, and Sequencing.com’s Ultimate DNA Test.
DNA microarrays are considerably less expensive than whole genome sequencing. Dante offered their microarray test in 2018 for around USD $150 while similar DNA tests are now less than $70.
Dante discontinued offering their microarray test in 2019 to focus solely on DNA sequencing.
Dante Labs ships their DNA test kit worldwide. Their DNA collection kit is the SpectrumDNA kit manufactured by Spectrum Solutions. It’s a saliva ‘spit kit’, which means you spit into a test tube and then mail it back to Dante Labs’ laboratory.
Once you spit into the kit, it is then returned using a small shipping box that’s included with the kit. For customers in the USA, the DNA test kit is shipped using USPS to SpectrumDNA in Drapr, Utah.
Using Dante’s kit was easy and took no more than two minutes. Just make sure not to set your tube down on a table if the twist cap isn’t on because the tube is top-heavy and will tip over. Unfortunately, we learned this the hard way.
It’s interesting to note that while 23andMe and similar companies use spit kits from DNA Genotek, Dante’s spit kits are from Spectrum Solutions. Both kits are easy to use although the tube included in 23andMe’s kit is larger so it requires more spit (about three additional minutes of spitting).
Spit kits, however, may not be for everyone. Some people just don’t like spitting. And if you want to sequence the genome of your newborn, swab-based DNA collection kits are usually much easier to use. This is because newborns don’t start to produce significant amounts of saliva for several months. As you can imagine, it can also be an exercise in futility trying to collect saliva from a baby using a test tube, although it may make a cute Tik Tok video.
If you’re looking for an alternative to a spit-based DNA test kit, Sequencing.com provides swab-based kits with their whole genome sequencing service. These swabs, which are rolled gently on the inside of the mouth, can be used to easily collect a DNA sample from most people, including newborns. These swabs are similar to the DNA collection swabs commonly used on TV shows, such as CSI and Law and Order.
When a person has sequencing performed by Dante Labs, the test is performed using sequencing machines manufactured by Illumina. The raw data generated by the sequencing machine is then stored in Amazon’s cloud known as AWS (Amazon Web Services).
Amazon also analyzes the raw sequencing data generated by Dante Labs. This analysis is performed using DRAGEN, bioinformatics software hosted by Amazon, and owned by Illumina.
Dante Labs provides genome sequencing data as two FASTQ files that are compressed using gzip compression. They also provide a BAM file and several VCF files including a VCF containing SNP data, another VCF containing INDEL data, an SV (Structural Variation) VCF, and a CNV (Copy Number Variation) VCF. The FASTQ and VCF files are gzip-compressed.
Dante doe not provide a special type of Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis called ‘Heteroplasmy Analysis’ and they also do not provide HLA analysis of immune system genes or a specialized form of CYP2D6 gene analysis that is helpful for medication and drug reaction analysis.
If you’ve already had genome sequencing performed by Dante Labs, learn how to use your whole genome sequencing data so that you can obtain the most value from your data while avoiding common pitfalls.
Instead of a genome VCF, Dante provides a regular (non-genome) VCF for SNP data and a second VCF for INDEL data. The regular VCF only contains variants with a PASS (have passed quality thresholds). All homozygous reference calls and all no-calls (no-pass) data are excluded. A regular VCF was likely chosen because the file size is significantly smaller compared to genome VCFs.
When using genome data generated by Dante Labs, we avoid their SNP VCF and instead primarily have DNA analysis apps to analyze the FASTQ files. If used during analysis, their regular VCF would introduce unnecessary ambiguity. Since we’re not fans of ambiguity in genetic data, we avoid their SNP VCF.
When using a regular VCF of WGS data, it is assumed that all chromosomal coordinates that don’t appear within the file have homozygous reference calls. Since low-quality calls are also excluded from their SNP VCF, assuming that all data not included in the file is homozygous reference may not always be correct. There will always be the question for chromosomal coordinates not included in the file ‘is the call homozygous reference or was it a low-quality call that may have been heterozygous or homozygous alt allele? Because of this, analyzing the data in their regular VCF may provide inaccurate results.
We always play it safe when it comes to genetic data, which is why we only generate genome VCFs as part of our bioinformatics pipelines and our whole genome sequencing service. While the file size is much larger (several GB), genome VCFs contain all of the data so no assumptions have to be made when analyzing the data.
The quality of Dante Lab’s genome sequencing data is usually very good although we have received reports that it can vary. For example, some customers report that the sequencing depth was around 15x or 20x instead of the 30x that was ordered.
For most people, it can be challenging to analyze their raw genome data to determine the actual depth of sequencing. Other than being told it is 30x, there’s no easy way to check. Because of this, it can be difficult to determine whether you’ve truly received 30x sequencing.
Our bioinformatics team frequently receives requests to evaluate the depth of sequencing of a genome. We provide this service for free so if you’re interested, please email support ([email protected]) and we’ll be happy to help.
During 2019 and the first half of 2020, Dante Labs allowed customers to download their raw genome data files for no fee. This changed, however, in September 2020 when customers started to experience errors downloading files from their Dante Labs account.
According to the most recent updates from Dante Labs, they no longer allow customers to download the large genome data files (FASTQ and BAM files) unless that customer maintains an active subscription with Dante Labs. This means that the ability to download raw genome data files from Dante Labs now requires a fee.
If you do not maintain an active subscription with Dante Labs, while you can still download your VCF files, you will not be able to download your FASTQ and BAM files, which we view as the most important genome data files to have access to.
To assail concerns about the issues with turn-around-times that were significantly longer than advertised, on April 25, 2019, Dante Labs announced that their WGS service will include a 90-day money-back guarantee.
This guarantee stated that if a person’s genome wasn’t sequenced within 90 days from when the kit was received by the lab, the customer would receive a full refund and also be able to keep the data once the sequencing had completed.
Dante Labs removed the guarantee after several weeks without providing a reason why.
While there are different sites that include reviews of Dante Labs, we usually focus on the one site that we know for certain is impartial and unbiased: The Better Business Bureau (BBB). Even though Dante Labs isn’t registered with the BBB, the BBB still includes its own rating and reviews of Dante Labs.
As of 2021, the Better Business Bureau gives Dante Labs an F rating. The BBB states this rating is based on
- 61 official complaint(s) filed against business
- Failure to respond to 15 complaint(s) filed against business
- 6 complaint(s) filed against business that were not resolved
Dante Lab’s rating on Trustpilot is currently 3.6 out of 5. Dante has requested Trustpilot to censor or remove more than 105 reviews, which means they actively monitor their reviews at this site.
The majority of the negative reviews on Trustpilot are due to issues with long turnaround times and customer service issues. For example, while Dante Labs states the turn-around-time on their standard whole genome sequencing service is 8 weeks, customers report that they have waited more than six months and their genome still has not been delivered to them.
Reviewers state that it is very difficult to obtain a full refund from Dante Labs. Some reviewers have expressed frustration that since most issues become apparent three or more months after ordering the test, they can no longer issue a chargeback because many credit cards only allow a dispute to be submitted within 90-days of when the order is placed.
Below are examples of recent customer reviews.
Dante Labs is known to hold several sales each year. In 2020, their Black Friday sale offered 30x whole genome sequencing for $150. They also offered a similar deal in 2019. While this price is incredible, one has to wonder if it’s too good to be true. Looking through the customer feedback at both Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau indicates that the customer may not always get what’s ordered. There are also concerns about quality.
When evaluating the value of Dante Lab’s Black Friday deals, as well as any special offered by a DNA testing company, it’s important to take into account what type of analysis and report are included. If the price includes genetic testing but does not include any reports, you’ll only receive raw data files. These files will then need to be analyzed so that the raw data is transformed into an understandable report.
Many of Dante’s sales, including their Black Friday sale, do not include DNA analysis reports. These reports can be purchased for $40 per report or an additional $499 for all reports. There are also third-party sites that can analyze your genome data, including our DNA App Store, which includes free DNA analysis apps.
There are several companies that now provide whole genome sequencing that you can order online. In addition to Dante Labs, Nebula Genomics and Full Genomes both provide whole genome sequencing services. Other test providers, such as MyHeritage, don’t perform whole genome sequencing. Instead, they use a testing technology called ‘genotyping’ that tests less than 0.1% of your genome.
Click to view a comparison between DNA testing and genome sequencing providers.
Sequencing.com also offers Ultimate Genome Sequencing service, which is currently on sale for $399. This service combines clinical-grade 30x whole genome sequencing with our advanced bioinformatics analysis and the world’s largest collection of DNA analysis apps and reports.
We believe that you own your data and we never charge a fee for you to access or download your data, including your FASTQ and BAM files. Our Ultimate Genome Sequencing service not only includes free, lifetime secure storage of your data but also the ability to download your data for free at any time.
Our Privacy First commitment also ensures your data remains safe and secure. We never sell or share your data, including your genome data, with anyone.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Dante Labs scores 3 out of 5 stars in our review. While Dante Labs provides technologically advanced genome sequencing services, there are two concerns. The first is their rating of F from the Better Business Bureau and the other is the requirement to pay an on-going subscription fee to be able to download your raw data files.
When whole genome sequencing first became available, having your genome sequenced required having your blood drawn at a special laboratory. It also costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and could take more than six months. But not anymore!
Revolutionary advances in genome sequencing technology now make it easy, painless, and affordable to have your genome sequenced.
If you want your genome sequenced, you don’t need a prescription and can even order it online.
For example, if you order our Ultimate Genome Sequencing service, we’ll mail you a DNA collection kit. When you receive it, swab your mouth and send it back. All it takes is just a few minutes and there’s no blood or needles involved!
Within just 8 weeks, we’ll sequence your whole genome.
When you order whole genome sequencing, you’ll be able to leverage Sequencing.com for our free data storage as well as our DNA analysis apps and reports that can help you to be healthier and happier.
Our collection of DNA analysis apps is the largest in the world, with more than 100 comprehensive reports throughout nine categories including health, ancestry, nutrition, fitness, beauty, lifestyle, children, bioinformatics, and even personalized artwork.
While all of the apps within the store are a great fit, health apps like the Rare Disease Screen, Medication and Drug Side Effects (Pharmacogenomics), Wellness & Longevity, and Genetic Counseling apps are excellent places to start once you’ve had your genome sequenced.
If you haven’t yet had your genome sequenced, you can order it now for less than $400.
If you already have your whole genome sequenced or have taken a DNA test, upload your DNA data today to receive free trait and health guidance for:
- preventable diseases
- rare diseases
- personalized nutrition
- genetically-tailored fitness
- sleep and mind optimization
- and much more