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Promethease Review: What you need to know

Written by Victoria Shelton, MS (Social Work) | Last updated:

Overview of Promethease

  1. Products: Reports and analyses on raw genome data, literature retrieval tool for relevant scientific studies and research.
  2. Cost: $12 flat rate for analyses of individual data files, additional $4 per file if uploaded simultaneously. Completed reports can be regenerated at any time for no further cost.
  3. Reports: Provide links to SNPedia pages, a wikipedia-esque database for genome research. SNPedia is consistently updated with current studies and information.
  4. Raw data access: Promethease requires that the user obtain their raw genetic information from a third-party company; it does not offer DNA testing.
  5. Privacy: As a security measure Promethease automatically deletes user reports after 45 days. They also state that they do not sell or offer users’ genetic information to any other companies.
  6. Alternatives: SelfDecode (sequencing and health recommendations), 23andMe (ancestry research), MyHeritage (Promethease parent company).

Promethease Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Extremely detailed and filterable analysis of raw genetic data.
  • Very accessible price-point for those with existing access to their genetic information.
  • The ability to upload multiple data files in the same report allows for the comparison of multiple DNA testing services.
  • Very brief-waiting period for data analysis results.

Cons

  • High barrier to access in terms of understanding the reports; Promethease does not make efforts to simplify the raw scientific information of SNPedia entries.
  • No individual health or wellness recommendations based on the results of the report.
  • The Promethease service is one dimensional; users have to incorporate the additional cost of DNA testing into the total cost of the report.
  • The tool for viewing reports can be complex and difficult for clients to grasp.

About Promethease

Promethease is owned by MyHeritage DNA, an ancestry and health based genome analysis service started by its current CEO, Gilad Japhet, in 2003. MyHeritage has made significant strides over the last 10 years with respect to DNA based ancestry research, and they acquired Promethease in 2019. The company also owns the service’s associated research consolidation tool, SNPedia, and began offering health focused DNA kits in 2019.

Overview of Promethease Products & Services

The crown jewel of Promethease’s offerings is the level of detail provided in the user reports, as well as the capacity it offers users to filter, organize, and compare that information.

In addition, the direct links to SNPedia studies that Promethease embeds in their reports offer an opportunity for users to explore further data and studies related to particular genome expressions. Finally, they have a unique capacity to consolidate data from multiple DNA tests into single reports which theoretically provides for a more accurate analysis of the clients raw genetic data.

Review of Promethease Reports

Promethease reports are initially organized by showing the user genes within their data set that have the greatest magnitude. These are gene expressions whose associated conditions or consequences have the greatest significance to the user. Beneath each gene expression is a description of the characteristics that have been found to be associated with that gene within the scientific research.

In addition, Promethease provides a clip of the relevant studies to the user, as well as embedded links from which to access the greater articles on SNPedia. Other information provided includes whether the particular expression is characterized as ‘bad,’ ‘good,’ or ‘not set,’ as well as graphs which allow users to compare their own DNA to other ethnic demographics in terms of the commonality of a particular genome. Here is an example for a genome expression that pairs with an increased risk for artery disease. It has a magnitude of four, which is high.

The red border surrounding this genome description indicates that its associated characteristic is ‘bad.’ Green correlates with ‘good,’ and grey with ‘not set.’ The hyperlinks at the bottom of most genome descriptions reroute the user to SNPedia pages which provide an even more extensive analysis and a selection of scientific literature which is relevant to the expression in question.

The SNPedia page for the above genome is shown below. These pages provide a wealth of information which is extremely useful for those who are familiar with genetic scientific literature more generally. However, the studies themselves can be extremely technical and therefore hard for some clients to parse. While there is no question about the quality or quantity of information that Promethease provides through SNPedia, it is debatable whether the average user will be able to make good use of that information.

While the reports will initially display 10 to 20 genomes to the user at a time, the amount of genomes displayed at once can be altered by using the sidebar control panel. With the panel users can also see the proportion of ‘good,’ ‘bad,’ and ‘not set’ genomes for the current gene sets they are viewing, filter genomes by their magnitude, frequency, or number of relevant publications, and change whether the genome descriptions are displayed as blurbs of text, or in graphs, tables, and charts. The control panel for navigating the reports is shown below.

Finally, users can use the search bar at the top of the page to filter genome descriptions with respect to a specific condition, symptom, or body part. Searching ‘kidney’ will bring up all and only the relevant genome expressions associated with kidney conditions.

The amount of agency Promethease offers users in navigating their report results is impressive. However, learning to navigate this interface can be difficult. Although Promethease provides a short tutorial at the beginning of each report, the tool is less polished or intuitive than those provided by other well-known genome analysis services.

Overall, the genome descriptions are very effective at providing the user with an extensive amount of reputable information about the consequences of each expression. What they don’t do is provide the user with any guidance about what to do with that information. Promethease’s service is not focused on offering health or wellness recommendations. Accordingly, the reports may leave some users wondering whether there is anything they can do about their potential, less-desirable genetic predispositions.

Cost of Promethease

The face value cost of the Promethease service is extremely reasonable given the $12 baseline cost of reports. That being said, users need to already have their own raw genetic data prepared to use the service.

This means that in actuality, the cost of a Promethease analysis should be combined with the preexisting costs of obtaining that information through testing services. SelfDecode provides both the testing and analysis services for $187. You can download your raw data from SelfDecode for free to use with Promethease as well – some other testing services will charge you for access to your raw data.

Is the Promethease ‘second-opinion’ worth it?

Many other genetic research services offer testing services in conjunction with detailed reports based on the raw data for a single consolidated cost.

The added cost of a Promethease report makes sense only if users hope to counter check the data given to them by multiple other genetic research services, or to consolidate and compare the raw data from multiple DNA test kits.

Promethease could be useful for extremely dedicated individuals on a mission to hyper analyze their DNA and genetic history by allowing them to cross reference various DNA sequencing services or allowing them a higher level of manipulation with respect to the optics of their reports. However, for most people in search of an accessible and streamlined way to access their genetic construction, a consolidated approach such as SelfDecode would be more rewarding.

Health Recommendations from Promethease

As is noted above, Promethease does not provide its users with any health or wellness recommendations based on their genome analysis. The research that Promethease provides is more than adequate, it’s expansive. In addition, all of the studies which SNPedia includes are published, scholarly, and peer-reviewed. Yet, users will have to engage in a significant amount of individual research should they hope to make use of this valuable information.

Understanding the complex language of the scientific papers which Promethease provides will be difficult for all but the most specifically educated of Promethease’s users. For this reason, most individuals will find themselves unable to reach any kind of resolution about how to address the results of their report. The same can be said of the detailed comparisons Promethease offers between demographics and specific gene expressions.

Simply put, Promethease fails to guide their users through the most significant benefit of genetic testing: applying the information to real life. Yes, it is certainly valuable to understand that one is at increased risk for liver or kidney cancer, but if one knows nothing about how to decrease such risk that information can cause increased anxiety rather than leading to rational solutions. Promethease is excellent at providing a ton of detailed information and displaying that information in a plethora of ways, but it is not so effective at helping its users decide what to do with that information once they understand it.

Promethease Privacy Data and Security

When you use Promethease you are given the option to either create an account or run your data as a guest user. If you create an account the raw genetic data you offer will be stored until either you choose to delete it or 45 days have passed. With an account you are able to regenerate your report at any time even after 45 days. Without an account the online version of your report as well as your data will be deleted after 24 hours. This standard makes Promethease very safe privacy-wise.

When MyHeritage acquired Promethease in 2019, all users with existing genetic information in the Promethease database had their information transferred to the MyHeritage data pool and accounts automatically created for them. However, MyHeritage, like Promethease originally, maintains that they do not engage in the sale of users’ genetic data to third-parties or other companies and that users retain full ownership of their raw data.

Security Incidents

In June of 2018, MyHeritage announced that there had been a breach of their servers which had leaked the data of over 92 Million users. However, while user’s email addresses and hash passwords had been accessed, the company assured that credit card information and genetic data of their users was stored on a separate system and was therefore not part of the leak. A year later, the account information of many of the MyHeritage user profiles appeared for sale on Dark-Web marketplaces. In a separate incident, some anonymous reddit users have aired complaints that MyHeritage acquired their raw genetic data in 2019 even after they had deleted it from the Promethease database.

Self Decode vs Promethease

  1. SelfDecode offers the same quality and quantity of information that Promethease does in terms of genome analysis and descriptions. What SelfDecode does differently is make that information understandable. All of the analysis has as much scientific research backing it up, it’s just in a more accessible form.
  2. The Promethease reports give users a ton of freedom to filter their genetic information, but the tools they provide can be confusing. SelfDecode offers the same amount of flexibility when it comes to sorting through genetic reports, but in a way which is much more intuitive. SelfDecode reports are easy to read and easy to navigate.
  3. Promethease gives users a ton of information about their genomes, expressions, and characteristics. What they don’t do is tell you how to use that information or how external factors might be affecting it. SelfDecode offers detailed health and wellness recommendations that will allow you to be the best version of yourself regardless of your predispositions.
  4. Promethease is an excellent way to analyze raw genetic information that you already have access to. However, gaining that access in the first place will force you to look elsewhere. SelfDecode gives users a parallel service with respect to genetic analysis, but gives it in conjunction with DNA testing. Promethease is the second step in a 2 stage process. SelfDecode does it all together.
  5. Promethease goes to great lengths to keep its users’ data safe, deleting raw genetic info after a specified time period. SelfDecode prioritizes safety to the same extent, using data-encryption and offering a guarantee to never sell or trade the information of its users.
  6. Promethease provides information to their users based on the significance of the genome in question. SelfDecode also focuses on genes which are of greatest importance to users, and does so in order to guide their users on how best to address their personal genetic health risks.
  7. Promethease leads their users to the frontlines of genetic science, letting them make the most, or the least, of that information. SelfDecode’s approach is more comprehensive, drawing from those same pools of scientific knowledge in order to provide holistic solutions to its users.
  8. SelfDecode has the only personalized genetics blog of its kind. The blog provides users with daily information, stories, and ideas relevant to users based on their genetic analysis. Promethease is notably lacking in the blog department.

Comparisons

SelfDecodePrometheaseMyHeritage23andMe
Personalized Health and Wellness Recommendations YesNoLimited carrier status reportsNo
Personalized Blog PostsYesNoNoNo
ProductsDNA testing, wellness reports, research-based personalized blog posts, health recommendationsRaw data analysis, manipulatable genome reports, researched backed conclusionsDNA testing, some carrier reports, ethnicity based comparison, ancestryDNA testing, traits, wellness reports, more accurate ancestry
Raw Data AccessYesNot providedYesYes
Cost (USD)$97 – $387$12 – Variable, depending on testing cost$99 – $150$99 – $499

Promethease Reviews

Nebula Genomics – 4.5 of 5 Stars

Nebula Genomics emphasizes the amount of information the Promethease provides, as well as how expansive its genetic analysis is, but also stresses the complexity of its presentation. Overall they endorse Promethease with the caveat that it is very disease focused.

DNAtestingchoice.com – 4 of 5 Stars

The editors review from DNA testing choice lauds Promethease for being a cost effective alternative to programs like 23andMe and AncestryDNA. However, the editor themself articulates worries about incorrectly interpreting the complex scientific information that Promethease provides.

The conversation about Promethease on Reddit

Reddit users have expressed serious concerns about the validity of Promethease’s commitments to privacy. Some users found that their genetic information had been acquired by MyHeritage despite their attempts to delete it from the Promethease databases.

The conversation about Promethease on Twitter

The Promethease company has a twitter account where users can directly pose questions about company services.

Alternatives to Promethease

SelfDecode: The exclusive resource for users who want the most understandable and detailed information about their genetic makeup, with equally robust health and wellness recommendations

MyHeritage: The parent company of Promethease, MyHeritage provides a more comprehensive service of DNA testing in conjunction with analysis and reports. However, MyHeritage has been traditionally focused on ancestry research and only began doing health focused genetic reports last year.

23andMe: 23andMe, like MyHeritage, has positioned itself near the top of ancestry DNA analysis and offers an expansive database of information. That being said, they also sell their client’s data to third party companies and other private entities.

Promethease Review Summary

Promethease has the potential to be a versatile tool for someone who is extensively experienced with genetic science and is hoping to gain a greater understanding of their own DNA background. It could also be a useful tool for someone looking to compare raw genetic data that they’ve acquired from multiple testing services. When it comes to adequately aiding users who are looking to glean understandable information and guided wellness recommendations based on their genetic makeup, Promethease falls short.

For what it does Promethease has an extremely low financial barrier to entry. However, as noted above, the cost of using Promethease should realistically be combined with the initial cost of DNA testing. Many other companies, such as SelfDecode, will provide both services for a single cost.

While the quantity of information that Promethease provides can be very valuable to the right people, it is important to note that it is only as useful as it is understandable. In some ways, Promethease places its users directly in the scientific dialogue that is unfolding with respect to genome analysis. That’s great for users who feel ready to unpack that dialogue, but users who want to have their DNA represented to them in plain language and through a simpler interface will have to look elsewhere.

SelfDecode provides precisely this kind of access to its clients. The scientific dialogue that gives the genome reports significance are all still there to support the conclusions of SelfDecode reports, but SelfDecode also breaks down the barriers of jargon and technical speech that might be difficult to parse for the average user.

Promethease is a great resource for someone looking to get the most detailed and nuanced analysis of their DNA as possible. For individuals who are instead hoping to understand what their genetic background means for their daily life, and live better based on that understanding, SelfDecode is the best option.

About the Author

Victoria Shelton

MS (Social Work)
Victoria is a social worker turned digital marketer with experience in public speaking, professional writing and project management.
She combines her passion for empowering others to make positive life changes with her love of data analysis to provide strategic marketing expertise that prioritizes the customer and allows for data-driven decision making.

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