In 2005, the DNA testing company Helix and National Geographic partnered on a project they named The Genographic Project. This research project was a collaboration with scientists and universities worldwide to study human migration.
There were 1 million people who participated in the project using National Geographic’s “Geno” DNA Ancestry kit.
In July 2020, National Geographic discontinued its relationship with Helix. The public participation phase of the project ended. Helix also announced they will no longer be providing direct-to-consumer services. However, there is an alternative to Helix’s DNA app store - Sequencing.com’s DNA app Store.
A DNA app store is a digital marketplace offering free and paid applications that analyze genetic data.
Think of it as the app store on your phone, only for your DNA. You can browse through apps by category, view the details of each app including sample reports, use free apps and purchase paid apps. You can also look at featured and trending apps to see what is most popular.
When Helix was a startup, they created an iOS app for DNA. Users purchase a DNA test and then they can use the raw DNA data with the app to analyze it to learn more about their genetics.
Helix is different from DNA testing sites like ancestry.com (AncestryDNA), 23andMe, MyHeritage. While the latter DNA test for ancestry and health information, Helix wanted to provide more to people interested in obtaining more genetic information.
DNA testing sites like ancestry.com, 23andMe, MyHeritage, etc. provide genotype testing. Helix provides DNA sequencing.
Genotype testing only tests part of the genome called whole exome sequencing, which is different from whole genome sequencing.
The business model for Helix was that they sold the DNA testing kits to people, and then those people could buy analyzing apps from their DNA app store.
The apps used to analyze genetic data are from other companies that base their technology on genomic research. The cost of those apps ranged from $30 to $150.
The apps ranged from family and fitness to entertainment. People can choose what they want to know about their genetic code, pay for the app and have the information they want. For instance, they can choose the health app to learn what their genetic code says about their cholesterol levels.
The MIT Technology Review published an article, “A DNA App Store Is Here, but Proceed with Caution”. The article talks about their association and supporter Illumina, which contributed $100 million for the launch.
The much-anticipated app store ended up being recognized in the 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2016: DNA App Store.
Daniel MacArthur, a scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, says that the apps may not be good for consumers because they may inflate customer expectations and decrease consumer confidence for clinical genetic tests.
Helix faced challenges with its app store due to the contributions of third-party DNA analysis companies. This inevitably led them down the path of genomic research vs. direct-to-consumer DNA testing.
Helix’s groundwork for a DNA App Store is appreciated, as it has led to advancements in analysis applications. This has led to higher quality apps that provide consumers with accurate and trustworthy genetic information.
Sequencing.com has taken the idea of a DNA app store to another level. This is what founder and geneticist Brandon Colby has to say about it:
“DNA analysis apps, and a DNA App Store, empowers the consumer to be able to choose what they want to learn about their DNA. And as long as the App Store has strict quality control practices to ensure only the highest quality DNA analysis apps are available (as Sequencing.com has), then even though the apps available will cover a wide range of information, the genetic analysis throughout the entire App Store will be high quality. Customers should have high expectations when it comes to a genetic test!
Unfortunately, the superficial results provided by some tests do leave people wanting more. And that’s precisely why a DNA App Store that can analyze genetic test data from any test is so useful in helping to meet the expectations people have.
For example, if a person has a 23andMe test and wants to learn about a DNA-based nutrition plan or how to use the information in their genes to improve their sleep, 23andMe doesn’t provide this information.
But Sequencing.com’s DNA App Store does. So while expectations of genetic testing may fall short if a person can only obtain a single type of analysis from their DNA test, once that person can expand out the insights they obtain from that test, such as by selecting from hundreds of different DNA analysis apps, then expectations, as to obtain a lot of value from their DNA, have been met.”
Sequencing.com is an online platform that helps people transform their genetic data into valuable, actionable insights that can improve health and wellness. Sequencing.com does this by providing access to DNA-powered applications in the world’s largest DNA App Store.
Powered by Sequencing.com’s Universal Compatibility technology, the apps are able to analyze data from all genetic tests such as Ancestry.com, 23andMe, FamilyTree DNA, and Helix as well as whole-genome sequencing (WGS), exome sequencing, and DNA arrays.
Sequencing.com’s DNA App Store includes nine categories of apps: health, ancestry, nutrition, fitness, beauty, lifestyle, children, bioinformatics, and even DNA Art. These categories will help you browse and sort through the apps to find the right apps for you.
Throughout these categories, there are many opportunities to learn more about yourself and your family, including insights about your family’s heritage and certain preventable health conditions you or your loved ones may be predisposed to.Visit The DNA App Store