GenePlaza review – How does a DNA app store work?

dna-app-store

GenePlaza Review Summary

GenePlaza is an app store for DNA apps that analyze ancestry, health and various traits. Learn more in our GenePlaza review!

Nebula Genomics

Result
Price
Interphase
Comprehensiveness

Summary

GenePlaza is a genetic app store that is easy and fun to use, but only provides small views of your genome. Also, apps must be purchased separately.

4.3

This review is written with the intent to be as unbiased as possible. However, it represents the opinion of an individual reviewer and is therefore subjective. Furthermore, at Nebula Genomics we seek to educate the public about the benefits of Whole Genome Sequencing. Information about our Whole Genome Sequencing DNA test is therefore incorporated into the review.

February 16, 2022

Edited by Christina Swords, Ph.D.

7 Facts from our GenePlaza Review

  1. Location: Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium
  2. Product: Offering a genetic “app store”, GenePlaza allows users to pick and choose which apps they would like to pay for. It also offers a DNA testing service
  3. Reporting: Depends on the app. Includes ancestry, health, various traits
  4. Privacy: The policy is easy to understand. No data is shared with third parties
  5. Data download: available
  6. Cost: apps cost between $4 and $38
  7. Alternatives: If you are looking for a more comprehensive DNA test, take a look at Nebula Genomics

GenePlaza Introduction

GenePlaza is a genetic testing company that offers apps to analyze your DNA. Dr. Alain Coletta and Robin Duqué founded the company in 2017. Coletta and Duqué previously worked together on InSilico Genomics S.A, a company to help researchers with genetic analyses. They founded GenePlaza to help users better understand their DNA.

GenePlaza provides apps that do everything from calculating your predisposition to depression, to predicting your math ability. According to Coletta, it is the first instance where users can purchase apps for DNA analysis. He claims that these apps are different from full genetic reports since each one tends to focus on one trait. 

Users can buy individual apps for the characteristics they are most interested in. This allows for a targeted approach to learn about your genetic code but does require multiple purchases. Users can also authorize the use of their genetic results for biological research.

Looking for the best DNA data to upload to sites like GenePlaza? Nebula Genomics offers affordable Whole Genome Sequencing to decode 100% of your DNA! This enables the most comprehensive and accurate reporting for health and ancestry. Click here to learn more!

How Does GenePlaza Work?

GenePlaza offers a myriad of DNA analysis apps created by research scientists. Creating an account is easy and only requires the user’s name and email address. Once created, you upload your DNA data from a site like 23andMe, AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, or MyHeritage. If you don’t already have a DNA file, you may order a DNA test. 

GenePlaza DNA tests can only be delivered to countries in Europe, but the apps are accessible by anyone in the world. Instead of using full genome sequencing, the company genotypes the DNA sample at 700,000 locations in the genome. The cost of this DNA test is $62. While Ancestry DNA and 23andMe use a similar testing method, they are generally more expensive. 

The GenePlaza App Store

Apps in the GenePlaza app store
Apps in the GenePlaza app store

Before we dive in the full review of the apps, let’s overview the available services. Once the genetic data has been generated or uploaded, there are currently 20 analysis apps available (as of January 2022). Their cost is between $4 and $38. Users who order DNA tests get a $6 credit towards app purchases.

The apps do not provide one comprehensive report, but are instead comprised of various trait-level tests. Here’s the list of the apps in case you want to explore them. following:

  1. SAPDA: Infers your ancestry. Uses a pool of data from other populations to remove confounding genetic mutations for a more accurate result. 
  2. The K35 Calculator: Reports how similar your genetic data is to ancient populations from the Bronze and Iron ages. 
  3. Bronze Age DNA Test – Advance: a high-resolution DNA test, which calculates the proportion of 10 ancient gene pools.
  4. Bronze Age DNA Test – Beginner: a low-resolution DNA test, which calculates the proportion of 6 ancient gene pools.
  5. GenePlaza K29 Admixture Calculator: Uses shared allele frequencies to report your genetic similarity to various populations around the world, including West, South, East Eurasians, and Native Americans.
  6. The K5 Admixture: Measures relatedness of individuals to highly diverged populations of Eurasia, including West, South, East Eurasians, and Native Americans.
  7. Addictions: Predicts drug addiction related genetic variants.
  8. Math Ability: Reports your relative math ability compared to the rest of the population, based on a previously published scientific study.
  9. Depression App: Predicts your genetic predisposition to having depression, along with lifetime prevalence of the condition.
  10. Sleep Zzz: Predicts your predisposition to being an early bird or night owl.
  11. Ci-lantro vs No-lantro: Predicts the likelihood of you finding the taste of cilantro similar to soap.
  12. Coffee Metabolism: Predicts how quickly you can metabolize coffee.
  13. Intelligence App: Uses a genetic model from a study that measured intelligence. For each user, the app predicts their IQ score if they had participated in the study.
  14. Health Traits: Based on a UK study that included 500,000 participants. Reports predisposition to certain diagnoses and psychological factors like needing glasses or mood swings.
  15. GenePlaza Ethnicity Calculator: Conducts a statistical analysis to visualize your ethnic distance to different populations.
  16. Ancestry: Estimates the locations & regions where your ancestors may have lived. 
  17. My Weight: Predicts your genetic predisposition to be overweight. 
  18. Taste Perception: Reports whether you would be “bitterness-blind” or a “super-taster.” 
  19. Neuroticism App: Reports your tendency to be neurotic.  
  20. Sano Genetics – contribute to research: Matches users to potential research studies that they can participate in by sharing their genetic information.

The app page indicates that there are many more apps to come. However, it has been almost two years, with the list not growing.

Review of GenePlaza Apps

Sample reports are available for all apps, along with detailed descriptions created by app developers. All of them contain a disclaimer stating that the results are only a score if you had been part of the study. Results should not be used to diagnose, predict, or assume predisposition to a condition.

All the apps are created based on data from research studies. For reported results, GenePlaza cites the paper that the results are based on. Most apps also provide a discussion section. 

For more arbitrary topics, like DNA intelligence tests, the discussion includes the history and implications of these measurements. Reports are well-cited by the relevant literature and often include detailed descriptions of the analyses. 

Review of GenePlaza SAPDA

The SAPDA report includes Allele Matching graphs, Admixture Proportions, and Genotype Similarity Index Single Population Allele Sharing. This information is used to infer the ancestry of the user. Along with the report, a comparison to other ancestry tools is also provided. Furthermore, the report explains why certain statistical tools are used instead of others, with more links to the developer’s analyses.

A report in the GenePlazza SAPDA app. From GenePlaza review
A report in the GenePlazza SAPDA app

Review of GenePlaza K35 Calculator

This report tells the user their genetic similarity to ancient populations from the Bronze and Iron ages. The results also show descriptions for the various ancient populations mentioned in the report. Lastly, the studies and references used by the app are clearly cited. 

A report in the GenePlaza K35 Calculator app
A report in the GenePlaza K35 Calculator app

Review of GenePlaza K29 Admixture Calculator

While results from the K29 calculator are similar to the K35, it contains fewer details. There is not much discussion and no additional reading material beyond the graph.

A report in the GenePlazza K29 Admixture Calculator app. From GenePlaza review
A report in the GenePlazza K29 Admixture Calculator app

Review of GenePlaza Math Ability App

The result is a simple graph showing the user’s inferred math ability compared to the general population. In addition to the result, the report discusses the role of genetics in determining one’s math skills.

A report in the GenePlaza Math Ability app. From GenePlaza review
A report in the GenePlaza Math Ability app

Results for the remaining apps are similar. They typically contain a graph showing the user’s results compared to the population used in the study. Usually, GenePlaza also provides a few articles to discuss the results.

Review of GenePlaza Health Traits App

The Health Traits app has the most extensive results and includes a large number of traits to explore. Sections include potential medical diagnoses, early life factors, family history, health and medical history, and more. 

Users can explore their genetic data across different diagnoses and genetic variants. GenePlaza lists each trait, like being diagnosed with asthma, how likely you are to have it, and how your genetic code contributes to the risk. 

A report in the GenePlaza Health Traits app. From GenePlaza review
A report in the GenePlaza Health traits app

Exploring each trait also provides further insight into your results, with comparisons of your results to the population studied. Users can also look at the specific genes and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) used to analyze the data. These are further broken down into the variants contributing to your risk for a specific trait.

Review of GenePlaza Privacy

The terms and privacy policy are easily accessible on the website. The policy includes contact information in case users have any questions or concerns. Furthermore, all relevant terms such as “Genetic Data”, and “GenePlaza Kit” are defined. It lists all of the information GenePlaza collects and clearly explain the reasons for collecting the data. 

No data is shared with any third parties without the user’s consent. Lastly, users may withdraw their consent to allow GenePlaza to process their data at any time. 

Downloading Your Data

If a user purchased its DNA test, GenePlaza data is expected to be available within 8 to 10 weeks. The company specifies that users can start using the apps once the data has been produced. Furthermore, users can keep and download their data for the future.

GenePlaza in the News

GenePlaza was most recently in the news after a controversy surrounding its app, “122 Shades of Gray” (previously called “How Gay Are You?”). Initially, it provided a score of how genetically predisposed someone might be to same-sex attraction.

According to The Lancet, the app was based on a study about genetic variants related to same-sex attraction. The app sparked a backlash from the scientific community and was criticized in Nature and The Scientist. The study’s original authors also issued a letter urging GenePlaza to take the app down. 

After an online petition on Change.org, GenePlaza initially changed the app’s name to “122 Shades of Gray”, before taking it down entirely.

MIT Technology Review shared similar concerns over GenePlaza’s Intelligence App. In response, Alain Coletta said that these tests are safe as long as the results are private. GenePlaza stressed that user data is not accessible to even the app developers according to its privacy policy. 

Other GenePlaza Reviews

The Miriam’s Genealogy Corner review focuses on GenePlaza’s Ancestry app and an older K12 Ancient Admixture Calculator. The review also compares GenePlaza to DNA.land and Gencove.

Additionally, the website M. P. Britt provides a detailed review of GenePlaza’s Ancestry and Health Traits app.

DNAtestingchoice.com has ranked the company as 4.3 out of 5 stars. Here is a quote from their review:

“GenePlaza gave me a means to reuse my genetic information, with a selection of diverse web apps that could analyse my DNA in different ways to tell me more about my genetic predispositions. I thought their range of web apps was fairly decent, and was pleased to see that there were more coming soon.”

“The prices of their web apps ranged from relatively inexpensive to relatively expensive. However, uploading your DNA or purchasing a kit entitled you to free credit, and so some apps were essentially free, and all the apps were available to me regardless of which option I chose.”

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Extensive privacy policy
  • Cautions users about interpreting predictions
  • Provides citations and references for all studies and claims
  • Extensive discussions of the history and implications of all results
  • The website is easy to use and navigate

Cons

  • Can only analyze raw DNA data from three other websites
  • It does not offer whole genome sequencing
  • The previous controversy surrounding some of the apps
  • It does not provide full genetic reports
  • Users instead have to purchase individual apps for each genetic trait

Nebula Genomics 

Nebula Genomics is different from GenePlaza and other genetic testing companies in its focus on full, high-quality reporting. Our goal is to provide you with the best experience on our website. With full access to genome exploration tools, you can analyze your genetic data any time without fearing hidden fees or costs. Unlike other companies, we use the newest research to update your genetic reports on a regular basis. 

With Great Data Comes Great Responsibility

At Nebula Genomics, we understand and value your privacy above everything else. Ownership and control over your data are solely in your hands.

If you choose to share your data with researchers, you can be compensated. Your data is stored on secure servers and is always encrypted. You can read more about the importance of DNA privacy.

Fill in the Blanks with Nebula Expand

Already have DNA data from other companies? You can upload your raw data to receive a Nebula Genomics expanded report. Our reports provide more information than most other genetic companies, which use DNA genotyping methods based on microarrays. We can fill in the gap using our advanced statistical models, called imputation. 

Instead of having limited and static reports for individual genetic traits, our reports are updated regularly. You have immediate access to hundreds of traits in the Nebula Research Library without any hidden fees. 

Nebula Genomics 30x Whole Genome Sequencing

Our goal has always been to put the power in your hands.  

The DNA testing methods used by other companies only provide data from a portion of your genome. This means that you may miss out on valuable information. With our 30x Whole Genome Sequencing service, we read 100% of your DNA.

In other words, you review a fuller picture of your DNA. We can provide you with 10,000 times more data, which we use to give you an extensive report . 

Picking the best place for your DNA test is a very important decision. To make the decision a bit easier, here is a comparison of GenePlaza, 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and Nebula Genomics.


GenePlaza23andMeAncestryDNANebula Genomics
DNA testing methodGenotypingGenotypingGenotypingWhole Genome Sequencing (30x coverage)
DNA reportsNeed to purchase each app report individuallyOne full reportOne full reportAn extended report that is updated regularly
Ownership of dataUnclear whom the data belongs to. Customers can withdraw consent to allow GenePlaza to process data.Unclear. The customer can have saliva destroyedUnclear. The customer can delete/destroy DNA and dataYour data permanently belongs to you
Focus on privacyYesNoNoYes (You can learn more on our website)
Security technology usedStandard security protocols like SSLStandard security protocols like SSLStandard security protocols like SSLBlockchain, privacy-preserving computing
Data upload optionsYesNoNoYes. Imputation enables an expanded report
Free updates based on new researchUnclearNoNo.Regular updates to the report (learn more)
Tools to explore dataLimited, have to purchase more appsLimitedLimitedYes (learn more)
Ancestry reportingYes, but have to purchase multiple options separatelyYesYesDeep ancestry reporting with full Y chromosome and mtDNA sequencing
Data accessData can be downloaded, but the format is unclearYes (23andMe format file)Yes (AncestryDNA format file)Yes (FASTQ, BAM and VCF files)
Cost$62 for the DNA test. There are additional costs for apps$99 or $199$99 or $119$0, $99, $299

If you like the idea of an app store for genetic apps, you should also check out our Helix and Sequencing.com reviews.

Did you like our GenePlaza review? You can read more reviews on our blog and check out our complete guide to the best DNA test kit and other home tests. Or check out our guide to DNA upload sites!