Frequently Asked Questions
What is A Genetic Predisposition and what is the Science Behind it?
Your DNA controls everything about you: from your eye color, sensitivity to sun, and risks of complex diseases. Knowledge of your Genetics can be utilized for preventive purposes, leading to healthier life and personalized daily choices. Genetic variations in our DNA impact the way your body processes nutrients, your muscles and joints structure, your skin characteristics, and many other wellness traits, from predisposition to higher blood pressure due to excessive salt consumption, or negative impact of trans-fats. Wellness Genomics is the science of identifying associations between genetic variations present in the DNA with Wellness traits. This is called predisposition likelihood assessment. LifeNome uses a Computational Genomics engine that assesses the cumulative effect of genetic variations that may impact your wellness traits based on thousands of peer-reviewed genetic studies of various populations and provides you with state of the art predisposition likelihood assessment for that trait.
How accurate is this test?
The Computational Genomics platform used by LifeNome to generate your reports provides the most rigorous science currently available to analyze genetics-based wellness. It is based on over a decade of highly curated global scientific research. However, there are many things to consider when reading your genetics-based wellness assessment. Most wellness traits are influenced by three components: your genetics, your nurture environment (ages 0-7) and your current lifestyle choices. As such, Genetics is not the only determinant for the actual presence of a trait. Genetic predispositions can only tell you the statistical likelihood that you are predisposed to a particular trait such as vitamin deficiency or skin youthfulness. Additionally, many of the large-scale studies performed have been done primarily on European populations. While most genetic traits are affected by the same genetic variations regardless of ethnicity, the degree of influence of each genetic variation may vary across populations. We strive to keep up with the latest developments in the field of Wellness Genomics and we provide you with the most up-to-date information. Through the surveys we provide you with, we get more information about the actual state of your wellness for some of the traits for which you get your predisposition results and can thereby determine how much of a trait is genetically predictable based on predisposition likelihood analysis.
Where can I find the scientific studies underlying the analysis?
For every trait we provide you with the list of genetic variations that are present in your DNA which impact the traits both contributing to the predisposition likelihood as well as protecting against it. When you click on those variations, you will be taken to further resources that provide all the studies linked to that variation and its linkage to the particular trait. We also provide additional resources that you can use to study about the trait and the genetic variations further.
How do you arrive at the risk assessment?
The algorithm behind the scores is complex and proprietary, but the basic logic is as follows. First, there are potentially two types of genetic variations present for a single individual: those that contribute to the strength of a trait and those that decrease the strength of a trait. For example, within a single person there may be genetic variations that increase the likelihood that a person may be predisposed to obesity and there may be others that decrease that likelihood. We look at each genetic variation, determine its influence on the trait, weigh the importance given its potential role in critical metabolic pathways and enzymatic reactions, explore whether it is co-occurring with other variations that we expect to see if there is a higher risk and calculate a net likelihood score for the individual. Then we look at population data and rank the person based on where they are in terms of likelihood of predisposition compared to the rest of the population. The population percentile score shows the percentage of people who have less likelihood than the individual to be predisposed genetically to a trait.
Why is our science superior to all the other companies offering similar tests?
Most companies you will see use single genetic variations that are available in publicly available studies to assess whether or not you may have a predisposition. There are many problems with this approach. For one you may have multiple genetic variations that are associated with a wellness trait and still have low predisposition likelihood for that trait. This can be because some genetic variations have a lower influence on the total likelihood for some ethnicity than another, and it can also be because there are inhibiting variations that balance the impact of the contributing variations. Our technology looks at genetic patterns cumulatively impacting a cluster of genetic traits and is enhanced by a learning artificial intelligence algorithm that automatically adds new scientific knowledge as it becomes available and gets smarter as it absorbs new genotype-phenotype data.
How can I trust the results?
The scientific studies chosen as an input for our knowledge base are highly curated peer reviewed studies with statistically significant populations and generalizability. As such the knowledge base is the most comprehensive and rigorous set of genomics studies available today. However, a predisposition likelihood model is a risk model and it provides likelihood assessments for a trait. It helps to make precautionary choices for lifestyle, which would allow to mitigate any potential adverse effects of a negative trait and taking advantage of a positive trait. Wellness Genomics is based on the same rigorous scientific principles as Personalized Medicine. As an example consider a well-known genetic variant rs429358 that significantly increases the risk for Alzheimer disease. Having this variant, does not necessarily mean that a person has the disease, or will get the disease. It does, however, indicate the higher risk for a disease. Knowing this information may help the individual to take preventive action. Similarly, genetic variations associated with decreased levels of an essential vitamin or mineral, indicate risk for potential micronutrient deficiency. An individual with higher genetic-based risk for deficiency in vitamin D, for example, is encouraged to consume foods rich in vitamin D, monitor vitamin D level, and talk to nutritionist or healthcare provider about vitamin D supplementation. While everyone needs to make sure to follow general recommendations for all essential minerals and vitamins, it is even more important to monitor those for which you have elevated genetics-based risks.
Why did you choose these genes and SNPs?
The genes and the SNPs are selected based on two criteria:
- the significance of the statistical relationship strength between the genetic variations and the trait within the scientific literature and
- the presence of that genetic variation within a genotype-phenotype cluster.
How do you categorize the results as different traits have different thresholds?
The thresholds are based on the inflection points within population distributions for each trait, which is different trait by trait. Wherever available, the data is compared to the phenotype data from the tested population as well as WHO public health data on some of the nutrient deficiency prevalence statistics.
How come some of the assessment doesn't match my observations? I exercise a lot since I was young, why does the result say I'm high in exercise aversion?
As discussed every trait has three components, nature (genetics), nurture (upbringing) and current lifestyle (choice/behavior). We generally report traits that have a strong genetic influence and which we can report reliably. Sometimes a genetic predisposition runs in the family but does not express itself in your specific case.
If you are predisposed to exercise aversion it means many people with the same genetic composition as yours found it more difficult to motivate themselves to exercise. Your family upbringing and personal choices can overcome your genetics. In fact, that is the main reason we offer you this information, since you can use it to overcome your potential predispositions through a change in lifestyle. If you are exercising despite being predisposed, you should be more proud of your achievement compared to someone that does not have a predisposition to exercise lethargy.