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Nebula Genomics: Things to Know Before Using

What is Nebula Genomics?

Nebula Genomics is a genome sequencing company. They offer customers the opportunity to learn about their genetic makeup and maintain control of their genetic data.

What is genome sequencing?

Genome sequencing is the process of obtaining the complete sequence of DNA from an organism. This information allows us to see what genes are in our DNA that make us who we are.

What sets Nebula Genomics apart?

  • Nebula Genomics is partly founded by genomics pioneer George Church PhD. His work at the Church lab led to the first genome being sequenced which is the very foundation of modern genetics.
  • Nebula Genomics sequences your genome as opposed to competitors such as 23andMe who genotype your genome.
  • The primary aim of Nebula Genomics is to safely and privately provide genome sequencing to the world. They do also offer genetic trait reports and personalized updates on new research that is linked to your DNA.
  • You can order from Nebula Genomics without using any identifying information.

Sequencing vs Genotyping

Genome sequencing is used to extract the exact sequence of a certain length of DNA. You may have heard of Whole Genome Sequencing; which extracts the entire sequence of your DNA. 

Nebula Genomics uses genome sequencing. They sequence approximately 40% of your genome and then use a method called imputation to fill in the gaps. 

23andMe uses genotyping. Genotyping essentially takes your genome and compares it to a genome where the genes are already identified. This method allows 23andMe to identify small changes in your DNA compared to this reference. These small changes can be disease-causing or can have no effect at all.

Why use Nebula Genomics?

There are many reasons for having your genome sequenced but why in particular use Nebula Genomics?

  • Privacy and transparency: The core value of Nebula Genomics is giving the customer the right to own their genetic data. You get the choice to sell your genetic data to companies and you are paid fairly for it.
  • You can learn about your DNA; how it impacts your life and makes you who you are.
  • Nebula Genomics claims to generate 1,000 times more data than their competitors with their technology. 
  • Stay up to date with current research when you use their Nebula Explore service. 
  • First and only genomics company that provides microbiome sequencing of the mouth

Which product is right for me?

Nebula Genomics offers two products:

Nebula Sequencing – $149

Nebula DNA sequencing gives customers access to their raw genomic data in a chosen format; VCF, FASTQ or BAM. Also included is:

  • Ancestry report: your data will give you a breakdown of your ancestral heritage in a percentage form. For example;
    • 30% Southwestern European
    • 25% Eastern Meditteranean
    • 45% Middle Eastern
  • Genetic traits: your genetic data contains a wealth of information about who you are. With Nebula sequencing genetic traits are separated into 4 categories:
    • Appearance & hormones
    • Behaviour & perception
    • Body & athleticism
    • Nutrition & diet

Within each of these 4 categories are a list of traits present in your genome.

Microbiome sequencing: the microbiome is the genetic information of all the microscopic organisms e.g. bacteria, that are present in our bodies. Recent research has suggested our microbiome is key to our health. With Nebula Sequencing the microbiome in your mouth is also sequenced. 

Nebula Explore – $29.95 AND a $6.99 per month subscription

Nebula Explore allows customers to stay updated with new discoveries about their genetic data. For example, if a new study is released about a gene within your DNA, you will receive a personalised update about this. Nebula Explore also includes everything in the Nebula Sequencing package.

Customer’s feedback

Trustpilot rates Nebula Genomics at “Excellent” and 4.5 stars out of 5. Many reviews praise the personalised updated information with one Nebula Genomics review stating:

“I loved checking back routinely to see any updates and new research”

Nebula Genomics Reviews – Trustpilot

Discussion on the Nebula Genomics reddit page is much less positive. Many users say the low-pass sequencing method Nebula Genomics uses produces many errors. This can cause problems uploading the genetic data to other sources such as Promethease.

“A lot of things errored out due to low quality”

Anyone use this lately? : Nebula Genomics

DNAtestingchoice rates Nebula Genomics at 5 stars. Reviewers were particularly pleased with the ownership of their own genetic data that Nebula Genomics offers.

You get ownership over your own information, and you decide if you want to share that information

Nebula Explore by Nebula Genomics: Product Summary

Nebula Genomics Sample Report

There is a Nebula Genomics sample report available on their website’s blog. The report has a simple and easy-to-use design. The red box below shows the 4 sections of the report and you simply click on whichever you would like to view.

Nebula Genomics Report Example

Traits

There are 4 categories for traits:

  • Appearance & hormones
  • Behaviour & perception
  • Body & athleticism
  • Nutrition & diet
Nebula Genomics Report Example

When you click on a category you will be taken to a page with all the traits that Nebula Genomics have discovered in your genes. Below body & athleticism has been selected and as you can see there are 3 traits listed. There are 5 pieces of information listed for each trait:

  1. The trait itself e.g. Jimmy Legs
  2. The gene that results in this trait – BTBD9
  3. Variant (version of the gene) – rs3923809
  4. Likely effect – Increased chance of developing periodic leg movements in your sleep
  5. Explanation of likely effect  – in this case periodic leg movements are explained to give a clearer idea of what it is.

You can then click on learn more to get even more detailed information about the trait. At the bottom of this section is a “Read Paper” button to click on. This allows you to read the original research that lead to the discovery of the gene that caused the trait.

Nebula Genomics Trait Report Example

Ancestry

The ancestry section of the report is well formatted and easy to understand. 

Nebula Genomics uses a colour coded system to highlight different areas of the world and then use these colours to create a key. “My Data” section contains:

  • Colour code
  • Which region it represents
  • Percentage estimate your ancestry is from this region

Microbiome

Nebula Genomics is the first and only personal genomics company that offers mouth microbiome sequencing. Recent research suggests the microbiome being very influential in health. The report contains 3 important bits of information about each microbe found in the microbiome.

Relative abundance

The percentage of a particular microbe out of all microbes that are present in your mouth.

Comparison to other people

Measured with the percentile method. For example, if you are in the 60th percentile for a particular type of bacteria that means 60% of people have a lower relative abundance of this type than you.

Links between microbiome and disease

Nebula Genomics provides access to studies that have linked the microbiome composition in our mouths to disease. Nebula Genomics importantly stress that this should not be used as a diagnostic tool.

Library

Nebula Genomics has recently updated its library section. The new library still includes up to date information on your genetic data and now includes a polygenic score. Polygenic means a trait is controlled by more than one gene. The polygenic score is designed to inform users how much the sum of all genes within their genome that are linked to a particular trait cause that trait. 

Prices

  • Nebula Sequencing – $149 
  • Nebula Explore – $29.95 AND a $6.99 per month subscription for continued updated information. The subscription requires a minimum 1 year commitment. 

A key part of Nebula Genomics is that the customer is the owner of their genomic data. Through Nebula Genomics you may sell your genomic data to companies that are conducting research safely and securely through blockchain. This can potentially offset any cost and so can be a great method of how to get your genome sequenced for free. 

How to use Nebula Genomics

There are a few simple steps to receiving your Nebula Genomics results. 

  1. Receive your Nebula Genomics kit. This comes with a spit tube. You need to spit in the tube to provide a DNA sample. Make sure to follow instructions within the kit as you may have to not eat food hours before you spit in the tube.
  2. Before you send it off you need to register your kit. This is done by scanning a barcode on the box using your mobile phone and logging in to your Nebula Genomics account.
  3. Next, you send the kit off to the address in the instruction and wait between 8 to 10 weeks for your Nebula Genomics results.

Nebula Genomics vs 23andMe

Nebula Genomics and 23andMe both provide ancestry information and genetic trait reports based on your genetic information but there are some key differences in the two:

Nebula Genomics23andMe
* Data is more secure and private through the use of blockchain
* You can sell your genetic data making Nebula Genomics more affordable than its counterpart
* The next-generation technology combined with imputation covers the whole genome.
* Data is owned by 23andMe and they are allowed to share with researchers
* Genotyping technology covers a much smaller fraction of the genome.

Genetic Data and Blockchain

Blockchain is used by lots of different companies that want to keep data secure and give ownership of data to its users. “Blocks” are digital pieces of information and the chain is a public database. 

How does Nebula Genomics use blockchain

How Nebula Genomics use blockchain
  • With Nebula Genomics you hold control of your data. 
  • Your genomic data is stored in a genomic database. 
  • If you want to give permission to a company to use your data, consent is given to the key holders of the blockchain. This allows your data to be decrypted and again stored on the genomic database. 
  • The company wishing to use your data must also request access. 
  • If you have given consent and a request has been made then your genomic data is allowed to be accessed.
  • Through Nebula Genomics companies offer to pay to use your data potentially resulting in free genome sequencing if enough money is earned.

Summary

Nebula Genomics is perhaps the most private and secure method of getting your genome sequenced. Their whole genome sequencing method covers a much larger section of your genome than other tests. Ownership of data through Nebula Genomics’ blockchain data storage methods means data can be sold to researchers to offset the cost of sequencing. The trait reports are informative and easy to understand for people with little scientific knowledge.