dna-app-store

GenePlaza review – How does a DNA app store work?

Rating based on our GenePlaza review

7 facts from our GenePlaza review

  1. Location: GenePlaza is a Belgium-based company that offers DNA analysis apps to further analyze genetic data from companies like 23andMe or AncestryDNA.
  2. Product: Offering an “app-store”, GenePlaza allows users to pick and choose which apps they would like to pay for. GenePlaza also offers its own DNA test
  3. Reporting: Depends on the app. Includes ancestry, health, various traits.
  4. Privacy: The privacy policy is easy to understand. No data is shared with third parties.
  5. Data download: available
  6. Cost: apps cost between $2 and $15
  7. Alternatives: If you like the idea of an app store for genetic apps, you should also check out Helix. If you are looking for a more comprehensive DNA test, take a look at Nebula Genomics.

Introduction

GenePlaza is a genetic testing company that offers a series of apps to analyze your genetic data. The company was founded in 2017 by Dr. Alain Coletta and Robin Duqué. Coletta and Duqué previously worked together on InSilico Genomics S.A, a company to help researchers with genetic analyses. They founded GenePlaza to help users better understand their DNA. GenePlaza provides apps that do everything from calculating your predisposition to depression, to predicting your math ability. According to Coletta, GenePlaza is the first instance in which users can purchase apps for DNA analysis. He claims that these apps are different from full genetic reports since each app tends to focus on one trait.  Users can purchase individual apps for the traits they are most interested in. This allows for a targeted approach to learn about your genetic code but does require multiple purchases. GenePlaza users can also authorize the use of their genetic results for biological research. Learn more in our GenePlaza review!

Looking for the best DNA data to upload to sites like GenePlaza? Nebula Genomics offers Whole Genome Sequencing that decodes 100% of your DNA for $299! This enables the most comprehensive and accurate reporting for health and ancestry. Click here to learn more!

How Does GenePlaza Work?

GenePlaza offers a myriad of DNA analysis apps, which are created by research scientists. Creating an account with GenePlaza is easy, and only requires the user’s name and email address. Once you create your free account, you can upload your DNA data from 23andMe or AncestryDNA. If you don’t already have DNA data, you may order a DNA test from GenePlaza. 

GenePlaza DNA tests can only be delivered to countries in Europe, but the apps are accessible by anyone in the world. Instead of using full genome sequencing, GenePlaza genotypes the DNA sample at 700,000 locations in the genome. The cost of this DNA test is €164, which is roughly $180 USD. While AncestryDNA and 23andMe use a similar testing method, the GenePlaza test is more expensive for users. 

The GenePlaza App Store

Apps in the GenePlaza app store. From GenePlaza review.
Apps in the GenePlaza app store.

Before we dive in the review of GenePlaza apps, let’s get an overview of the available services. Once the genetic data has been generated or uploaded, there are 17 analysis apps available. The GenePlaza cost for apps is between €1.49 ($1.61) and €13.65 ($14.76). Users who order DNA tests from GenePlaza get €6 credit to use towards app purchases. Furthermore, users who upload their own genetic data get €3 credit. 

GenePlaza apps do not provide one comprehensive report, but are instead comprised of various trait-level tests, including the following:

  • SAPDA: Infers your ancestry. Uses a pool of data from other populations to remove confounding genetic mutations for a more accurate result. 
  • The K35 Calculator: Reports how similar your genetic data is to ancient populations from the Bronze and Iron ages. 
  • K29 Admixture Calculator: Uses shared allele frequencies to report your genetic similarity to various populations around the world.
  • Math Ability: Reports your relative math ability compared to the rest of the population, based on a previously published scientific study.
  • Depression App: Predicts your genetic predisposition to having depression, along with lifetime prevalence of the condition.
  • Sleep Zzz: Predicts your predisposition to being an early bird or night owl.
  • Ci-lantro vs No-lantro: Predicts the likelihood of you finding the taste of cilantro similar to soap.
  • Coffee Metabolism: Predicts how quickly you can metabolize coffee.
  • Intelligence App: Uses a genetic model from a study that measured intelligence. For each user, the app predicts their intelligence score if they had participated in the study.
  • Health Traits: Based on a UK study that included 500,000 participants. Reports predisposition to certain diagnoses and psychological factors like needing glasses or mood swings.
  • Ethnicity Calculator: Conducts a statistical analysis to visualize your ethnic distance to different populations.
  • Ancestry: Estimates the locations & regions where your ancestors may have lived. 
  • My Weight: Predicts your genetic predisposition to be overweight. 
  • Taste Perception: Reports whether you would be “bitterness-blind” or a “super-taster.” 
  • Neuroticism App: Reports your tendency to be neurotic.  
  • 122 Shades of Gray: (Discontinued) Predicted predisposition to same-sex attraction.
  • Sano Genetics – contribute to research: Matches users to potential research studies that they can participate in by sharing their genetic information. 

Review of GenePlaza Apps

Sample reports are available for all GenePlaza apps, along with detailed descriptions created by app developers. Results for each of the apps are accompanied by the following disclaimer: 

DISCLAIMER: This application is not a diagnosis, a prediction, or a predisposition score. This app simply shows what your score would have been if you had participated in this study. Some applications show various graphs computed from models issued by independent studies. It is possible results contradict across models.

All GenePlaza apps are created based on data from research studies. As such, for reported results, GenePlaza cites the research paper that the results are based on. Most apps also provide a discussion section. 

For more arbitrary topics, like DNA intelligence tests, the discussion includes the history and implications of these measurements. Reports are well-cited by the relevant literature and often include detailed descriptions of the analyses. 

Review of GenePlaza SAPDA

The SAPDA report includes Allele Matching graphs, Admixture Proportions, and Genotype Similarity Index Single Population Allele Sharing. This information is used to infer the ancestry of the user. Along with the report, a comparison to other ancestry tools is also provided. Furthermore, the report explains why certain statistical tools are used instead of others, with more links to the developer’s analyses.

A report in the GenePlazza SAPDA app. From GenePlaza review.
A report in the GenePlazza SAPDA app.

Review of GenePlaza K35 Calculator

This report tells the user their genetic similarity to ancient populations from the Bronze and Iron ages. The results also show descriptions for the various ancient populations mentioned in the report. Lastly, the studies and references used by the app are clearly cited. 

A report in the GenePlazza K35 Calculator app.

Review of GenePlaza K29 Admixture Calculator

While results from the K29 calculator are similar to the K35 calculator, fewer details are provided. There is not much of a discussion and not any further reading material beyond the graph.

A report in the GenePlazza K29 Admixture Calculator app. From GenePlaza review.
A report in the GenePlazza K29 Admixture Calculator app.

Review of GenePlaza Math Ability app

The result is a simple graph, showing the user’s inferred math ability compared to the general population. In addition to the result, the report discusses the role of genetics in determining one’s math skills.

A report in the GenePlaza Math Ability app. From GenePlaza review.
A report in the GenePlaza Math Ability app.

Results for the Depression App, Sleep Zzz, Ci-lantro vs No-lantro, Coffee Metabolism, Intelligence App, My Weight, Taste Perception, Neuroticism App, Ancestry, and Ethnicity Calculator are similar. These results typically contain a graph showing the user’s results compared to the population used in the study. Usually, GenePlaza also provides a few articles to discuss the results.

Review of GenePlaza Health Traits app

The Health Traits app has the most extensive results and includes a large number of traits to explore. Sections include potential medical diagnoses, early life factors, family history, health and medical history, and more. 

Users can explore their genetic data across different diagnoses and genetic variants. GenePlaza lists each trait, like being diagnosed with asthma, how likely you are to have that trait, and what in your genetic code contributes to the risk. 

A report in the GenePlaza Health Traits app. From GenePlaza review.
A report in the GenePlaza Health traits app.

Exploring each trait also provides further insight into your results, with comparisons of your results to the population studied. Users can also look at the specific genes and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) used to analyze the data. These are further broken down into the variants contributing to your risk for a specific trait.

Review of GenePlaza Privacy

The GenePlaza terms and privacy policy are easily accessible on their website. The policy includes relevant contact information in case users have any questions or concerns. Furthermore, all relevant terms are defined for the users, such as “Genetic Data”, and “GenePlaza Kit”. They list all of the information GenePlaza collects and clearly explain the reasons for collecting the data. 

No data is shared with any third parties without the user’s consent. Lastly, users may withdraw their consent to allow GenePlaza to process their data at any time. 

Downloading Your GenePlaza Data

If a user purchased their DNA test from GenePlaza, the data is expected to be available within 8 to 10 weeks. The company specifies that once the data has been produced, users can start using the apps. Furthermore, users can keep and download their data for an independent future.

GenePlaza in the News

GenePlaza was most recently in the news after a controversy surrounding their app, “122 Shades of Gray”. The app was previously called “How Gay Are You?”. Initially, it provided a score of how genetically predisposed someone might be to same-sex attraction.

According to The Lancet, the app was based on a study about genetic variants related to same-sex attraction. The app sparked a backlash from the scientific community and was criticized in Nature, The Scientist, and Genome Context. The original authors of the study also issued a letter urging GenePlaza to take the app down. 

After an online petition on Change.org, GenePlaza initially changed the app’s name to “122 Shades of Gray”, before taking it down entirely. As such, most apps on GenePlaza disclaim that results are “not a diagnosis, a prediction, or a predisposition score. This app simply shows what your score would have been if you had participated in this study”.

Similar concerns were shared on MIT Technology Review over GenePlaza’s Intelligence App. In response, GenePlaza founder Alain Coletta said that these tests are safe, as long as the results are private. GenePlaza stressed that according to their privacy policy, user data is not accessible to even the app developers. 

GenePlaza Reviews

GenePlaza Pros and Cons

ProsCons
– Extensive privacy policy.
– Cautions users about interpreting predictions.
– Provides citations and references for all studies and claims.
– Extensive discussions of the history and implications of all results.
– The website is easy to use and navigate.
– Can only analyze raw DNA data from three other websites.
– It does not offer whole genome sequencing.
– The previous controversy surrounding some of the apps.
– It does not provide full genetic reports.
– Users instead have to purchase individual apps for each genetic trait.

Nebula Genomics 

We finish our GenePlaza review by comparing it to Nebula Genomics and other DNA testing services. Nebula Genomics is different from GenePlaza and other genetic testing companies through its focus on full, high-quality reporting. Our goal is to provide you with the best experience on our website. With full access to genome exploration tools, you can analyze your genetic data any time without fearing hidden fees or costs. Unlike other companies, we use the newest research to update your genetic reports every week. 

With Great Data Comes Great Responsibility

At Nebula Genomics, we understand and value your privacy above everything else. Ownership and control over your data are solely in your hands. If you choose to share your data with researchers, you can choose to be compensated. Your data is stored on secure servers and is always encrypted. You can read more about the importance of DNA privacy here.

Fill in the Blanks with Nebula Expand

Already have DNA data from other companies? You can upload your raw data to receive a Nebula Genomics expanded report. Our reports provide more information than other genetic companies, which use DNA genotyping methods based on microarrays. We are able to fill in the blanks using our advanced statistical models, called imputation. 

Instead of having limited and static reports for individual genetic traits, our reports are updated weekly. You have immediate access to hundreds of traits in the Nebula Research Library, without any hidden fees. 

Nebula Genomics 30x Whole Genome Sequencing

Our goal has always been to put the power in your hands.  

The DNA testing methods used by other companies only provide data from a portion of your genome. This means that you may miss out on valuable information. With our new 30x Whole Genome Sequencing service, we read 100% of your DNA. In other words, you review a fuller picture of your DNA. We are able to provide you with 10,000 times more data, which we use to give you an extensive report . 

Picking the best place for your DNA test is a very important decision. To make the decision a bit easier, here is a comparison of GenePlaza, 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and Nebula Genomics.


GenePlaza23andMeAncestryDNANebula Genomics
DNA Testing MethodGenotypingGenotypingGenotypingWhole Genome Sequencing (30x coverage).
DNA ReportsNeed to purchase each app report individuallyOne full reportOne full reportAn extended report that is updated weekly.
Ownership of DataUnclear whom the data belongs to. Customers can withdraw consent to allow GenePlaza to process data.Unclear. The customer can have saliva destroyed.Unclear. The customer can delete/destroy DNA and data.Your data permanently belongs to you.
Focus on PrivacyYesNoNoYes (You can learn more on our website).
Security technology usedStandard security protocols like SSL.Standard security protocols like SSL.Standard security protocols like SSL.Blockchain, privacy-preserving computing.
Data Upload OptionsYesNoNoYes. Imputation enables an expanded report.
Free updates based on new researchUnclear.No.No. There are weekly updates to the report (learn more).
Tools to Explore DataLimited, have to purchase more apps. LimitedLimitedYes (learn more).
Ancestry ReportingYes, but have to purchase multiple options separately. YesYesDeep ancestry reporting with full Y chromosome and mtDNA sequencing in collaboration with FTDNA.
Data AccessData can be downloaded, but the format is unclear.Yes (23andMe format file).Yes (AncestryDNA format file).Yes (FASTQ, BAM and VCF files).
Cost$177 for the DNA test. There are additional costs for apps.$99, $199, or $499.$99 or $149.$0 to $299.

If you like the idea of an app store for genetic apps, you should also check out Helix. Did you like our GenePlaza review? You can read more reviews here! Or check out our guide to DNA upload sites!

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