Whether for ancestry research or health insights, at-home DNA testing has become increasingly popular. As of 2020, approximately 30 million people had tested their DNA, and that number is rising all the time. Something is fascinating about understanding more about ourselves in a way no one has been able to do before. In the search to find out more and more about ourselves, Dante Labs and their whole genome sequencing (WGS) is helping everyone to take that next step.
Most at-home DNA tests use whole-exome sequencing. This uses 1.5% of human DNA (the parts of the DNA that contains all of the protein-coding genes). In contrast, whole-genome sequencing looks at 100% of your DNA. The results you get back from this kind of testing contain your entire DNA blueprint, and they can be used in multiple ways.
What about the company?
Dante Labs is a lab testing company based in Italy with labs across Europe, Asia, and the US. The branch of Dante Labs that offers DNA testing is Dante Health, whose aim is to make advanced genome testing available and accessible to everyone. They do this by offering whole genome sequencing at a lower price than any other way of getting that information. In other words, they want to “democratize genetic information.”
What about the tests?
When you order a whole-genome sequencing test from Dante Labs, you will receive an at-home testing kit that involves taking a sample of your saliva. You can then send the sample back to them for analysis using the included return packaging. Unfortunately, the wait time can be quite long, with Dante Labs advising that it can take eight weeks to receive your results, but customers report waiting twice that length of time. If your initial sample isn’t of good enough quality, Dante Labs will send you out a second kit free of charge. And if that also doesn’t work, you are entitled to a full refund.
What you will receive
You will receive your raw DNA data, which can be uploaded to gene-matching services that look into genetic mutations and can also be used to file your reports using various DNA testing systems. You will also receive a PDF of your genome overview report, a technical document that can be used to visualize your genome.
On top of this, you will receive a longevity and wellness report. This report identifies your chances of developing a large number of health conditions based on your genetics and gives you lifestyle advice for how to reduce your risk, if possible. You will also receive a Fitness Report for Longevity. This report looks at how your genetics affect the way your body responds to exercise and can tell you whether you are more suited to different types of exercise (e.g., endurance versus strength) and can give you information about how your body will recover from intense exercise and your risk of injury.
Finally, you will receive a nutrigenomic report for longevity. This report looks at the relationship between your body and food. Research into how genetics affects our food preferences and how our bodies handle nutrition is starting to come into its own, so having a deep knowledge of how your body responds to nutrition can help you plan your diet more effectively to give your body everything it needs.
The benefits of whole-genome sequencing
The benefits of using whole-genome sequencing rather than whole-exome sequencing can be thought of as an investment in your future health. Whole-genome sequencing can pick up single-gene mutations that are impossible to find using whole-exome sequencing. This can help you uncover rare and complex genetic predispositions or diseases, making this testing particularly useful for people with complex health needs. In addition, the results are diagnostics ready and can be sent to genetic counselors and physicians to act on the results.
In fact, Dante Labs has created Stripe2Be, which is dedicated entirely to rare disease patients. It is a platform through which people worldwide can use their whole-genome sequencing to help interpret their rare diseases in a quicker and more accessible way than what is usually on offer via the usual medical route. By having full access to their whole genome, as science improves, people with rare diseases can better access any new treatments available.
But this type of testing isn’t just useful for people dealing with health issues. They can also be a valuable tool for determining if you are a carrier for any genetic conditions before you have children. And they can give you a deeper insight into your ancestry than whole-exome sequencing tests.
What do customers think?
The customer reviews are mixed. On the one hand, customers are impressed with the scientific validity and depth of the analysis in the results and the variety of genome file formats that you receive (FASQ, BAM, VCF). On the other hand, people also find the associated longevity reports useful and eye-opening, and reviews from people with rare diseases state that the investment in their genome is a handy tool for their health future.
On the other hand, many reviews talk about the extended wait time to receive the results, with some results disappearing entirely and the unresponsiveness of the Dante Labs customer service team. The complaints aren’t about the test itself or the results but about how the company can handle the logistics.
Pros and cons of the Dante Labs Whole Genome Sequencing Test
- Whole-genome sequencing gives you the deepest possible insight into your genome.
- The results are available in a variety of file formats that can be uploaded to DNA databases.
- The Stripe2Be initiative could be life-changing for people with rare diseases.
- It is more expensive than other DNA tests and the extra results may not be useful for everybody
- Many customers report problems with shipping and the Dante Labs customer service
To wrap up
The Dante Lab’s whole genome sequencing test allows you to possess your entire genome. Whether you want to do this for simple curiosity, you want deeper insight into your health, or you have a rare disease and want to take control of it, the results that are offered are orders of magnitude more comprehensive than those offered by standard whole-exome sequencing. That being said, not everyone needs that level of analysis, and the test is more expensive than the standard whole-exome DNA tests available.