Gene By Gene Reviews: What You Should Know Before Buying
About the Company
Gene By Gene was co-founded in 2000 by Bennett Greenspan and Max Blankfeld, with its headquarters in Houston, Texas. Currently, the company is headed by Dr. Lior Rauchberger as part of a merger with a leading Australian genomics firm, myDNA. The company’s labs are CAP, CLIA, NYSDoH, CA, and AABB accredited.
Gene By Gene laid the foundations of DNA-based ancestry and genealogy as FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA). The first company of its kind, FTDNA, collaborated with National Geographic’s Genographic Project as their testing provider.
Gene By Gene Services
The company was the first lab to offer DNA-based ancestry and genealogy services as its subsidiary, FamilyTreeDNA, since 2000. It has now expanded its services to clinical, forensic, and research genetics. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Gene By Gene has opened its door for COVID-19 testing services too. The company caters to a wide range of individuals — clinicians, consumers, and researchers — worldwide.
For starters, clinicians, consumers, and researchers alike can register with the company. Upon registration, they can browse from a list of tests to place an order. The account dashboard has five tabs for browsing.
Clinicians can add as many patient profiles as they want.
Clinicians can opt for a carrier screening test for other members of the patients’ families, too, if needed.
Clinical Testing Service
Gene By Gene’s clinical testing services includes the following:
- Diagnostic services to confirm a disease prognosis and assist in healthcare management
- Assistance in reproductive health with carrier screening and preimplantation testing
- Predisposition tests to learn about a healthy individual’s chances of developing cancer, autoimmune disorders, and more.
The clinical testing services of Gene By Gene can be availed either as a healthcare provider (for your patient) or a consumer.
Image: Registration for genetic counselors/medical clinicians
The company provides Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG) services to law enforcement organizations through its subsidiary, FamilyTreeDNA. The company has its in-house lab and many genetic genealogists who discreetly identify individuals. They do so by matching them to unknown samples of DNA from cases involving homicides or sexual assault. This is brought about by familial matching within the FamilyTreeDNA database.
Law enforcement officials can submit their case along with evidence for review to the company. The staff reviews the case and checks for sample suitability before proceeding with testing.
Relationship DNA Testing
Gene By Gene offers a wide range of DNA testing services, including paternity, maternity, immigration, and legal testing.
- Immigration Testing: This is offered by the company to assist immigration between the US and other countries. This is brought about in collaboration with the embassies of different countries. Upon test request, a case manager is allotted who guides through the entire testing process. The counseling sample is collected either as a buccal swab or as bloodstains (as may be required by different embassies).
- Paternity Testing: The company offers two types of paternity tests: first, court-admissible test (which you can use to change the name or get child support and other benefits), and second, Peace of Mind DNA test (for your peace of mind). Upon test requisition, a kit for collection and sample return to the company is provided to the consumer.
- Maternity Testing: The company offers maternity test services to ascertain biological mother identity in cases of:
- Reunion of the adoptee with their biological mother
- In the case of immigration, proof of biological relationships
- In case of baby mix-up in the hospital nursery, to ascertain birth mother.
Research Genetics Services
Gene By Gene offers a range of sequencing and microarray services for researchers from academic institutions, pharma companies, and hospital and medical research centers. The labs are CAP/CLIA accredited, and services are HIPAA compliant. Services provided are:
- Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS)
- Whole Exome Sequencing (WES)
- Sanger Sequencing
- Fragile X
The lab uses Illumina NovaSeq 6000 for WGS and WES services. The data is provided as FASTQ. For Fragile X service, carrier status is checked using AmplideX, FMR1.
Ancestry Testing Service
Gene By Gene offers its ancestry testing service through its DTC (direct-to-consumer) genetic testing subsidiary, FamilyTreeDNA. This service has an entirely separate website from where clients can access Ancestry Testing’s services. The consumer can sign up and start ordering kits with the specific service.
The different DNA tests offered are:
- Family Finder — This test focuses on autosomal DNA and finds living relatives on all ancestral lines. This analysis is represented as a percentage breakdown of the different regions of the world from where the consumer’s ancestors might have belonged. The test also provides a list of matching individuals who share common ancestors tracing back to five generations.
- Y-DNA — This test is for males only. It traces the consumer’s direct patriarchal line of descent. The test provides a list of matches who share a standard patriarchal ancestral line tracing to 25 generations. This test is unique as it gives a migrational route of the genetic population of your paternal line — haplogroup — which can be used to find out more about the consumer’s genealogy.
- mtDNA — This test traces the matriarchal line of descent. It also provides a list of matches that share common matriarchal ancestors tracing back to 52 generations. Additionally, it also traces an ancestral migrational route tracing back 1000 years.
You can check out our detailed review of Family Tree DNA services here
A part of the Family Finder test, this feature gives a percentile breakdown of the populations to which your autosomal DNA is connected. It can be accessed either from the navigation bar or from the consumer login dashboard.
This feature has two tabs:
- myOrigins tab shows the percentile breakdown for the consumer’s ethnic makeup shown as population clusters.
- The shared origins tab shows the list of shared matches.
DNA match list
The three tests (Family Finder, Y-DNA, and mtDNA) have separate databases of people who undertake each test. Therefore, upon a consumer doing either of the three tests, his data are matched with people who had undertaken the test before and checked for common ancestral descent. This information builds the base for the share origins tab of the myOrigins feature.
Carrier Screening Service
Gene By Gene provides a comprehensive carrier screening service that includes panel tests with 253 autosomal and X-linked recessive conditions (all conditions included by the American College of Medical Genetics and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). A simple cheek swab collects the sample for the screening test. The test results are ready in 2 weeks.
The company also provides complimentary genetic counseling services upon reception of carrier screening results. The service can be directly accessed by contacting Gene By Gene and scheduling an appointment.
Image: Snippet of Carrier Status Report
Xcode Life’s Carrier Status Report — 360+ Traits, $40 — No DNA test required
Tryptase CNV (copy number variation)
This test is used to determine the alpha tryptase copy number. It can be requested by healthcare providers, researchers, and consumers to check for serum tryptase levels. Suppose consumers order a test themselves; in that case, the test request form must be approved and signed by the consumer’s healthcare provider.
* Note: Alpha tryptase is produced by the gene TPSAB1 and beta tryptase by genes TPSAB1 and TPSAB2. Individuals with one copy of inherited α-tryptase on the gene sequence have normal serum tryptase levels.
- A typical result is any combination of both α- and β- tryptase adding up to 4 on both strands of DNA.
- A positive result is a combination of α- and β- tryptase adding up to five or higher on both strands due to duplication or triplication of α-tryptase.
Eligibility criteria for testing:
- Patients exhibiting symptoms of
- High tryptase level of 8 or more
- Cutaneous flushing, itching, and severe allergic reactions
- Chronic pain
- Connective tissue abnormalities
- Patients with a diagnosis of
- Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS)
- Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (Dysautonomia)
- Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
For more information: https://genebygene.com/tryptase/#resources https://genebygene.com/tryptase/#w-tabs-1-data-w-pane-1
The FamilyTreeDNA website of Gene By Gene has an additional feature of the Health report. This report includes:
- Health conditions — This includes carrier screening (screening of 365+ severe pathogenic variants), organ system diseases (screening for diseases affecting all major organ systems), evaluation of 59 secondary or incidental conditions, and gives the risk of illness insights and gives cancer predisposition status for 12+ types of cancer.
- Fitness and Nutrition Traits include nine fitness traits, eight nutrigenomics traits, and five additional lifestyle traits.
- Medication Response and Education — This includes insights into the metabolism and efficient dosages of medications and further information about conditions.
Upon receiving the report, a free-of-cost, half an hour telemedicine appointment with a consulting physician (or a genetic counselor) is scheduled to give the consumer a proper interpretation of their report.
Xcode Life’s Gene Health Report — 55 Traits, $20 — No DNA test required
Test PricingCourt Admissible Paternity Test$425Peace of Mind DNA Test (paternity)$189Court Admissible Maternity Test$475Family Finder $79 $59mtFull Sequence$159 $139YDNA37$119 $109YDNA111$249 $219Big Y-700$449 $399Tovana Health Report + Family Finder $899 $879
About Gene By Gene Privacy
The company claims to respect consumer privacy and does not sell or rent out personal information of any kind to a third party without the consumers’ consent.
The company only collects and stores consumer data to operate effectively and provide the best experience of its products. Personal information includes, but is not limited to, names, phone numbers, physical or mailing addresses, email addresses, and genetic test results.
The company uses the stored data to communicate about test progress and results and marketing communications occasionally. One can opt out at any time.
The information is stored in the company headquarters, adjacent to the Genomics Research Center in Houston, Texas.
In 2018, in collaboration with Dr. Barbara Rae Venter, Gene By Gene helped law enforcement officials arrest the “Golden State Killer” through its investigative genetic genealogy services.
In January 2021, Gene By Gene went for a merger with Australian genomics firm myDNA headed by Dr. Lior Rauchberger.
Summary: Pros and Cons
- The company offers in-depth diagnostic clinical testing services which physicians can trust.
- Ancestry reports have in-depth tracing, up to 10, 25, and even 52 generations.
- Test kits are easy to use with mostly cheek swab samples.
- Provision for trace mapping of ancestral migration routes.
- Provision for in-house labs which guarantee discrete and uncontaminated test results.
- Test kits are expensive.
- The company does not offer in-depth, personalized lifestyle reports
- Test results may take longer to be delivered, especially in the case of international consumers.
Gene By GeneXcode LifeType of genetic testingDNA kitsDNA raw data analysisAncestry reportsOffered (by FTDNA)Not offeredHealth reportOfferedOfferedPharmacogenomic reportNot offeredOfferedRaw data uploadOnly autosomal DNA data from AncestryDNA, 23andMe and MyHeritageDNA raw data from all major providers accepted. Comprehensive listNumber of reports213Report updatesNoQuarterly updatesPriceTests: $79 $59 — $475Health Report: $899 $879Reports: $10-$40Bundles: $49-$99Price detailsFree toolsNot available3 free tools (Gene Tool, DNA raw data merge, DNA raw data convert) available for allSample reportsOnly for carrier screening and Health reportAvailable as detailed report walkthrough videos
NB: Information on Gene By Gene as collected up till 03rd Aug 2021.