CircleDNA review – Is Whole Exome Sequencing worth a premium price?

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CircleDNA Review Summary

CircleDNA is Hong Kong-based DNA testing company that offers premium Whole Exome Sequencing tests. Learn more in our CircleDNA review!

Nebula Genomics

Results
Price
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Summary

CircleDNA is a genetic testing company that focuses on various health aspects (diet, health, family planning, etc.) and includes genetic counseling. However, their claim to be the most comprehensive DNA test is misleading since they offer Whole Exome Sequencing rather than Whole Genome Sequencing.

3.7

September 9, 2021

Edited by Christina Swords, Ph.D.

7 Facts from our CircleDNA Review

  1. CircleDNA location: Hong Kong, and other offices worldwide
  2. Products:  DNA sequencing, health reports, genetic counseling
  3. Reports: Diet, Health, Genetic Diseases, Family Planning
  4. Genetic Counseling: one 30-min session included with kit purchase
  5. Result delivery: within 18 days
  6. Privacy: secure privacy policy and option to delete data
  7. Cost:  $170 to $566
  8. Alternatives: Nebula Genomics (most affordable Whole Genome Sequencing, the one test that decodes 100% of DNA)

CircleDNA Introduction

CircleDNA is a genetic sequencing and reporting company that also provides genetic counseling. Users can select products ranging from diet and nutrition to the full gamut of disease and family planning genomics. The reports are clear, easy to understand, and comprehensive (Whole Exome Sequencing). 

CircleDNA is a genetic sequencing and reporting company founded in 2014 with offices around the world. It is owned by Prenetics, a genetic testing company from Southeast Asia. Their 150 staff members are focused on a mission of preventative medicine. They want to empower people to prevent disease before they even falling ill.

CircleDNA offers gene sequencing services, as well as over 500 reports included across 20 basic categories. They also provide complementary one-on-one sessions with a genetic counsellor with their DNA kits. Using technology from Illumina, Circle provides Whole Exome Sequencing.

Their clinical grade whole-exome sequencing collects 31 million data points, more than typical genotyping tests. Genetic counseling also makes CircleDNA stand out versus competitors like 23andMe and AncestryDNA.

Their website claims that they have processed over 300,000 DNA samples.

Are you interested in sequencing your entire genome? Nebula Genomics offers Whole Genome Sequencing that decodes 100% of your DNA as compared to CircleDNA’s Whole Exome Sequencing (only sequences 1% of your genome)! We also provide new reports every week that are based on the latest scientific discoveries. Learn more!

Review of CircleDNA Products

CircleDNA offers an array of options for home DNA testing. Each choice of testing kit corresponds to a different set of health reports and focus areas. Some of the DNA test kits come with genetic counseling, and others do not. Here is the breakdown of their products:

Vital DNA Test ($170): This lowest tier product gives users 125 reports about diet lifestyle, nutrition, fitness, wellness, and more. It does not come with a complementary one-on-one genetic counseling session. However, it does come with a 30-minute complementary consultation with a genetics trained health coach.

Health DNA Test ($499): This product gives users actionable information about cancer and disease prevention. The product includes 36 reports for cancer risk alone and 115 reports in total. It does come with a complementary one-on-one genetics counseling session but does not include health coaching.

Family Planning DNA Test ($499): This product gives users information about their genetic risks for disease. It is marketed towards couples who want to start a family.

The family Planning DNA test offers 163 reports, each corresponding to a specific disease or disorder:

  • 38 relate to neonatal & early childhood death, such as Gracile Syndrome
  • 116 relate to diseases that shorten lifespan and childhood death, such as cystic fibrosis
  • 71 of the reported diseases carry a significant risk for intellectual disability, such as phenylalanine hydroxylase deficiency

It does come with a complementary one-on-one genetic counseling session but does not include health coaching.

Circle DNA Premium DNA Test ($566): This premium test offering includes all of the lower tiers, bundled into one package. With 500+ reports and 20 categories of gene analysis, Circle refers to its premium kit as “the world’s most comprehensive DNA test.” It also includes a lifetime subscription to future genomic data updates, which they normally sell for $69. In addition, this product includes both genetic professional consultation sessions.

CircleDNA’s test for each of these products is an at-home test. All of the health tests rely on a swab test to get started. 

The test itself does not take a lot of time to complete. First, users order one of 4 test kit options. Then, they can perform a cheek swab to collect a saliva sample with their DNA collection kit and ship it back to CircleDNA for processing. Upon processing, tests are validated by the Croucher Laboratory of Human Genomics.

Sample processing takes about 18 business days.

After the DNA sample is processed, users receive their personalized reports on the Circle smartphone app. PDF versions of the reports are also available online. All kits include some form of consultation with genetic health professionals.

Genetic Counseling

CircleDNA is not a clinical genomic testing company. This means that users can order their tests themselves, without needing a referral.

CircleDNA does offer genetic counseling and health coaching about your genetic blueprint. One session of genetic counseling is included with each kit, although the Vital DNA Test counseling is with a health coach.

Circle’s genetic health professionals aim to walk users through their results. They provide actionable insights based on what they’ve learned. This could mean fitness regimens, nutritional advice, or insights relating to family genetic risks.

These services are not covered by health insurance.

Review of CircleDNA Reports

CircleDNA’s reporting options offer a lot of health information. CircleDNA ancestry even reports on European, Asian and African ancestry. Here is a breakdown of the information offered for each test. The reports are available in the CircleDNA app as well as on PDFs.

Review of CircleDNA Vital DNA Test

Do you want to get fit? Do you want an optimal diet to eat better and eat smarter? The Vital DNA Test from CircleDNA aims to help users better understand their genes as they relate to the following 14 categories

CategoryExample reports
DietSalt sensitivity, taste sensitivity, lactose intolerance
NutritionVitamin B12, iron requirements
Sports & FitnessEndurance capacity, Genetic strength
Stress & SleepStress-induced obesity
AncestryEuropean, Asian, African ancestry
SkinAcne risk
Physical TraitsSweat, waist, antioxidants
Behavioral TraitsAlcohol, Altruism
Gender TraitsMale sex hormone levels
Music & DanceDancing ability
Success TraitsMemory skills
Personality TraitsAgreeableness
Well-beingLife longevity, mosquito bites
PollutionDust allergy

Each report is broken down into facts and actionable information. CircleDNA shows the following images as sample versions of its reporting:

CircleDNA reporting feature of optimal diet type
CircleDNA reporting feature of optimal diet type
CircleDNA reporting on carbohydrates
CircleDNA reporting on carbohydrates

Review of CircleDNA Health DNA Test

Are you worried that you are at an increased risk of disease? The Health DNA Test from CircleDNA wants to help users better understand their genes as they relate to the following categories for early detection of disease risk and assessing whether you may be in a high risk category.

CategoryExample reports
CancerBreast, colorectal, melanoma, pancreatic, ovarian, stomach, uterine, and many more
Dementia & Brain HealthAlzheimer’s Disease, Bipolar disorder, Frontotemporal Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia, Parkinson’s, Schizophrenia 
Common Health RisksStroke, obesity, heart disease, diabetes
Disease Risk65 total reports, from Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm to Vitiligo

Each report is broken down into facts and useful genetic information. CircleDNA shows the following images as sample versions of its reporting:

CircleDNA reporting on disease risk
CircleDNA reporting on disease risk

Each human genome report comes with an in-depth explanation of the result and the science behind it. CircleDNA also provides statistics for context. For example, 81% of women with a BRCA1 Mutation may risk breast cancer, versus only 10% without it.

The test also includes information about drug responses and carrier status.

Review of CircleDNA Family Planning DNA Test

Are you worried that your future family may be at risk of rare genetic health conditions? The Family Planning DNA Test wants to help users better understand their genes as they relate to the following categories:

CategoryExample reports
Neonatal diseaseGracile Syndrome, Protein Deficiencies, Citrullinemia
Lifespan shorteningCystic Fibrosis, Ataxia-Telangiectasia, Andermann Syndrome
Intellectual DisabilityPhenylalanine Hydroxylase Deficiency, Smith-Lemil-Opitz Syndrome, Hyperinsulinism

Each report is broken down into facts and useful genetic information. CircleDNA shows the following images as sample versions of its reporting:

CircleDNA reporting on family planning
CircleDNA reporting on family planning

CircleDNA emphasizes that these are “results you can trust.”

Review of CircleDNA Privacy Policy

Is CircleDNA safe?  According to the CircleDNA privacy notice, the company ensures that users’ DNA data is in a lab certified as private and secure. CircleDNA does collect digital information from users and offers users control over what is done with the data.

Users may delete their data at any time.

Will CircleDNA disclose your personal data to third parties? CircleDNA does disclose personal information to its service providers. They do not sell, lease or rent protected health information without any consent.

Users may consent to the use of their data for scientific and medical research.

Their privacy policy is written in both English and Chinese. For legal purposes, if there were any discrepancies, the English version prevails.

CircleDNA in the News

The company has made it to several headlines and reviews. This article from the Telegraph, tells the journey of a user getting tested and their results plus some interesting takes on genetic testing in general. This story from Kirsty Gallacher, a former Sky Sports UK presenter who used CircleDNA services shows how shocking but eye-opening it can be.   

The Lifestyle Asia magazine wrote a piece on the importance of getting DNA-tested and points out CircleDNA as an alternative to do so. This 2020 article taps on the same concerns and how DNA testing can help lead a healthier life

Prenetics, the online company that administers CircleDNA and DNAfit, signed an agreement with EC Healthcare in July 2021. This strategic partnership gave EC Healthcare an exclusive license to market CircleDNA products in the Greater Bay Area. 

Amid Covid-19, DNA tests are more popular than ever – here’s how knowing your genetic background can help you lead a healthier life.

Other CircleDNA Reviews

CircleDNA received a 4.6 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot with over 700 reviews.

Tech Radar ranked CircleDNA with 4 out of 5 stars in their company review. They liked to lifelong updates, detailed reports, and the mix of reports provided. They disliked things like the weak ancestry results. They also believe the products are pricey.

CircleDNA Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Easy to read reporting
  • Detailed whole-exome sequencing analyzes more data than genotyping
  • Offers genetic counseling with DNA testing kits

Cons

  • More expensive than some whole-genome sequencing providers
  • Can’t upload genomic data from other providers

Nebula Genomics

CircleDNA also offers a wide array of genes to analyze with whole exome sequencing. However, with 30x Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS),Nebula Genomics decodes 100% of your DNA for only $299 or less. While both whole exome and whole genome sequencing  provide more comprehensive reporting than typical genotyping approaches, those used by 23andMe and AncestryDNA, whole exome sequencing stops with the genes that code for proteins.

Nebula’s Whole Genome Sequencing decodes everything from protein coding genes to the X and Y chromosomes. Our Whole Genome Sequencing data is of the highest quality and can be used by physicians and genetic counselors.

For more information and regular scientific updates, Nebula has a Research Library. This information is provided free of charge to all users. CircleDNA, in comparison, charges $69 for their lifetime subscription of weekly updates.

And what about users who have genomic data from other providers? Nebula users can also bring that DNA data to Nebula for further analysis. And for users who take their DNA data elsewhere, Nebula offers an easy export option. Users are encouraged to reach out to genetic counselors for more information. If you have a known genetic disorder in your family history, please consult with your healthcare provider first.

Here is how Nebula compares with other DNA testing companies.

23andMeAncestryCircleDNANebula Genomics
Type of Genome Reporting ServiceMicroarray-based genotypingMicroarray-based genotyping Whole Exome SequencingWhole-Genome Sequencing (30x coverage)
Produced data~ 600,000 positions in the genome~ 700,000 positions in the genome31,000,000~ 3,000,000,000 positions in the genome
Compatible with other sitesCan export data and use it elsewhere.Can export data and use it elsewhere.Not compatible with other servicesCan export data and use it elsewhere
Ancestry ReportingYesYesYesYes
Weekly UpdatesNoNoYes ($69, or included with the $629 test)Yes (Nebula Research Library, free)
Cost$99 – $199$99 – $119$189 – $629$0, $99, $299 
CircleDNA vs Ancestry vs 23andMe vs Nebula Genomics

If you are interested in comprehensive DNA tests, you may also be interested in these alternative products that use whole exome sequencing:

Learn more about whole exome sequencing, the importance of sequencing Y-DNA and mtDNA and things like paternity testing.

If you are interested in genetic testing that will help you achieve your health and fitness goals, there are a lot of products to choose from. You can learn more about your options on our website including:

  • Athletigen (free upload and basic report; additional tests and reports available at an additional cost)
  • DNAFit (in partnership with CircleDNA $189 – $629)
  • Fitness Genes ($49 for data upload; up to $199 for DNA testing kits)
  • Genomelink ($39 for fitness information)
  • Genopalate ($69 for data upload; $189 for DNA testing kit)
  • Living DNA (well-being kits start at $129)
  • Noom (subscriptions start at $150 per 6 months)
  • Nutrisystem (plans start at $9 per day for men and $8 per day for women)
  • Orig3n ($29 – $150 for various DNA tests)
  • Promethease ($12; for health information)
  • SelfDecode ($59 – $289)
  • Sequencing.com (fitness app purchased separately)
  • Vitagene (diet and health, $99)
  • Xcode Life ($20 each for fitness and health report)

Did you like our Circle DNA review? Read reviews of other DNA testing companies and also take a look at complete guide to the best DNA test kit and other home tests. Or, if you need more information, you can read more about DNA diet tests!