Genebase Systems is a company out of Canada, founded in 2005. While they and their partners started in paternity testing and court-related genetic matching, the company has expanded into the direct-to-consumer genetic testing market. The company uses advanced fluorescent probe technology to sequence and analyze DNA, and processes all samples twice for redundancy. They offer a variety of products not seen in other companies, which we have reviewed below.
Genebase overview and basic data
|Can be used for||Maternal and Paternal DNA Testing
Disease and Health Genetics
Mental Health Correlations
|DNA collection||Mouth Swabs|
|Number of SNPs tested||Varies by test|
|DNA sample stored||Yes, for up to 25 years|
|Price||$119 - $549, depending on the test|
|Platform matching for family||Yes, and can confirm relationship of two samples|
|Geographical analysis of ancestry||Yes|
|Special Features||This platform provides a large range of DNA testing services, for advanced users. Offers a number of genetic tests unavailable elsewhere, but this may be because they are built on shaky science.|
|Number of users||Unknown|
|Address||Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada|
|Client Reviews||Few online reviews|
Company background for Genebase
Genebase Systems, Inc. was founded in 2005 in Vancouver, BC, Canada. The company partners with Genetrack Biolabs to process DNA test kits. Genetrack Biolabs specializes in familial relation testing. With Genebase Systems, they process a number of other genetic tests. The lab uses an advanced fluorescent probe based approach, allowing the full sequencing of DNA. Depending on the test and level purchased, the company can test a number of genes and genetic properties. Their offerings include everything from ancestry testing, offered in concert with the DNA Ancestry Project, to health, disease, and behavior related tests.
Genebase Offerings Review
Genebase has many different genetic tests available for purchase. Their most basic tests include ancestry testing kits, which are specific for different parts of the genome. The company also offers a wide variety of other tests. These range from disease risks related to genetics, to known genetic correlations to health and behavioral traits.
The ancestry testing services provided by Genebase vary widely. There are three basic options to choose from, and each of these can increase in specificity. The maternal ancestry test tests the mtDNA of both males and female clients. The paternal ancestry tests (only for males) tests Y-DNA, and can trace paternal haplotypes. There is also an autosomal marker test, which can indicate where certain parts of your genetics originated from.
The results of these tests must be shared with the DNA Ancestry Project, and can be viewed on this platform. The platform will also give access to maps, related historical figures, and additional information about the history of your ancestors.
These tests range in price from $99 all the way up to $867. The simplest test includes only basic testing, while the most advanced tests cover most of the genome.
Family Relationship Testing
A large number of Genebase’s offerings allow for 2 different DNA samples to be compared and analyzed. This includes a number of familial relationships, from parents and children all the way to cousins, aunts, and uncles. With these tests, family relationships can be confirmed. The company offers a variety of legally compliant documents and methods, to support these results in court. The company even gives access to its PhD-level staff, in cases where expert testimony is required.
Family relationship tests typically cost $150, depending on the relationship being testing, and both people must purchase and take the test.
Many of the tests offered by Genebase focus on specific disease-associated genes and alleles. These tests have variable validity as to their role in determining disease, but the results of these tests can give you insights into your genetics and how they may affect your health. Genebase has a wide variety of disease-related genetic tests, from cardiovascular disease, to narcolepsy, to Alzheimer’s and Celiac disease. There is even a panel for those with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, which covers a whole panel of common genetic diseases within this population.
These tests range in price from $195 for a single disease test, to $549 for the entire Ashkenazi Jewish panel of tests.
Lifestyle and Behavior Testing
The final set of offerings from Genebase consist of Lifestyle and Behavior related tests. These tests include things like infidelity, caffeine sensitivity, lactose intolerance, the “warrior gene”, and even anxiety and depression. Many of these tests search for single alleles which have been correlated to certain conditions. However, the results of these tests should be taken with a grain of salt. Correlating an allele to a various condition or health outcome fails to look at the whole picture of health. Having a certain allele in something as complex as the human mind is hardly a diagnosis of any condition. Most traits are determined by a variety of genes in conjunction with the environment they are exposed to.
These tests are typically $150, and include your results and a simple explanation. More detailed explanations and interpretations must be obtained from your doctor.
What separates Genebase from other companies in that regard?
Genebase offers one of the widest selections of genetic testing options. Their offerings range from low-end ancestry testing options, to high-level genetic panels for many tests at once. Genebase has much more complicated offerings than most companies, and should probably only be used by advanced users or in conjunction with a medical professional. The ancestry options are fairly typical, and offerings are in line with other companies. Users have the option to match with other users on the platform, and trace their maternal and paternal haplotypes.
With their other offerings, Genebase is taking a leap of faith in their marketing and sales tactics for various genetic conditions. They offer a number of behavioral, mental, and disease trait tests which are far from conclusive or even soundly backed by evidence. Complex traits like the probability of infidelity and the amount of anxiety a person experiences are highly variable traits with only minor correlations to genetics. While these tests may help an actual medical professional with a complete diagnosis, they are far from being any sort of reliable marker in themselves.
How it works, what will your kit include?
Each DNA kit contains a buccal swab, which you swipe along the inside of your cheek. In doing so, you remove some cheek cells containing your DNA. This company partners with a variety of testing centers if the sample being collected is for legal cases, requiring third-party chain-of-custody. In either case, the buccal swab is returned to the lab and processed.
The company claims an extremely fast turnaround time once the sample has been received, as their process is fully automated. The laboratory will process your results twice, for accuracy, then give you access to whichever report you purchased. Additional tests, or extensions to your first test, can be purchased after the fact, as your DNA will remain on file for 25 years or more.
Understanding the results
Genebase partners with the DNA Ancestry Project, to allow customers to view and understand their results. Here, users can view migration patterns determined by their haplotypes, communicate with relatives, analyze and search the genome for connections to indigenous populations, and even match to historical figures.
The ancestry results contain a wide variety of information, including historical context and maps to help you understand your deep family history. The platform allows you to trace your ancestry back to its origins in Africa. The platform even allows users to find and communicate with long lost relatives. This may be an attractive offer for adoptees or others looking for lost familial connections.
Health, Disease, and Lifestyle Results
The reports for these tests are typically emailed or mailed to users, after the test is complete. These reports typically focus on a single gene, while a few are for a variety of genes. Many of the genes tested have been correlated to certain conditions. The report you receive will show you which allele of the gene you carry, and if that allele is correlated with specific medical or behavioral conditions.
While the results of these tests are accurate, the conclusions from the results can be misleading. For example, the tests conducted or the “warrior gene” are supposed to tell you if you have a specific allele for the gene controlling a particular neurotransmitter. While the test will accurately tell you if you have the allele correlated to decreased neurotransmitter function, the exact relationship to anger, anxiety and stress is murky at best. Many of these disease, health, and lifestyle tests should be used in conjunction with a medical professional to help understand what the results tell you. In many cases, the relevance of one gene (of over 20,000) on your health is negligible when compared to diet and exercise
Will your data be shared?
Media coverage and user opinions
In all, Genebase makes very few appearances in the media. Though they have been around since 2005, they have relatively few users and a large majority of their business seems to come from family genetic matching which is court oriented. Though Genebase Systems is relatively new and unheard of, their partner company, Genetrack Biolabs, has seen its fair share of newsworthy stories. They have been involved in reconnecting families, as well as conducting genetic analysis of high profile celebrities.
- Market Wired – DNA Technology Meets Web 2.0 in the Newest Tool for Tracking Your Ancestral Roots
- Mashable – Genebase: Social Networking Based On DNA Samplings
- Wired – Artist genetically engineers mice with the DNA of Elvis Presley
- The Wall Street Journal – Family Secrets: An Adopted Man’s 26-Year Quest for His Father
- Times Colonist – Two Island Mounties accused of trying to fool paternity test
There is little to no information available online about user satisfaction with Genebase Systems. The Better Business Bureau has profiles on both Genebase Systems and Genetrack Biolabs, neither of which have a significant number of reviews, or complaints. Neither business is BBB accredited, but both receive “A” or higher ratings.
Users who are happy with Genebase mentioned the following points:
- Quick turnaround time
- Platform offers ability to network with matches
- The company can provide legal reports and legal testimony in court cases
Users giving Ancestry a 1-star review mentioned the following worthy points:
- Kits have been lost in the mail, with little response from company
- Results are difficult to understand, website and platform generally unintuitive
- Genetic tests may be supported by only a small base of evidence
Bottom line conclusions for this Genebase review
Genebase Systems seems to be a company based on a solid partnership with a tried and tested Canadian testing laboratory. However, the tests they offer are often much more expensive than competitor’s prices. The information gleaned from these tests can also be questionable. While Genebase is one of the only companies to offer some genetic tests, this may be because the evidence supporting the conclusions of such tests are not scientifically proven. Many of their tests are based on a handful of correlations found among small groups of subjects. The results from tests like these should only be used when consulting with a medical professional for proper interpretation.