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Promethease: a Comprehensive Review And Guide For Every DNA Newbie

You probably know by now the immense power of your own genetic data. When interpreted appropriately, it has the potential to inform us about our ancestry, health and even risk for diseases. This information is invaluable, but we need to make sure that it is accurate and reliable before taking actions. Promethease is one of the earliest companies to offer health insights based on users’ very own DNA. This is a comprehensive Promethease Review and Guide that you do not want to miss. We will

  • Explain what Promethease does
  • Walk you through how to use it step-by-step
  • Give you tips on how to read promethease report 
  • Answer the most frequently asked questions about Promethease

What is Promethease?

Promethease is a third-party DNA analysis tool for health genetic information. It helps you estimate risks of developing certain diseases based on the raw DNA data that you could obtain from several genetic testing companies, including:

See here for a complete list of DNA testing services usable with Promethease.

How does Promethease work?

Promethease works like a paper retrieval system that gets its information from SNPedia, a vast collection of scientific studies on how genetics affect health traits. This collection keeps on expanding as new research discoveries are made every day.

With your uploaded genetic data, Promethease scans through to identify which variants (SNPs) you carry for certain genes. Your unique collection of variants is then searched within SNPedia to see if any of them have been associated with medical traits in published papers. 

What are SNPs?

SNPs stand for single nucleotide polymorphism. In short, our entire genome is made up of many genes that carry out certain functions inside the body. Each gene is again made up of many single nucleotides. In total, each person has 3 billion of these nucleotides. Because we all come from a common ancestor, we share 99.9% of these nucleotides. The remaining 0.01% variation comes from these variable SNPs. They not only make us different from each other, but also give us different likelihoods of developing certain medical conditions.

How many SNPs can Promethease test?

The latest data on SNPedia states that there are currently 110684 SNPs in the database. These are the ones that have significant medical consequences revealed by research. Of course, there are many more SNPs in our genome, but these are the ones worthy of recording based on existing research.

Next, how many of these 110684 SNPs apply to your particular genetic data depends on how many SNPs were tested in the first place. For example, out of the 110884:

  • Ancestry.com’s current vs2 platforms test 49765
  • 23andMe’s current v5 platform tests 25484
  • FamilyTreeDNA tests 14482

Learn more about basic genetics and how SNPedia works on their official FAQ page.

What do you get from Promethease?

After scanning your genetic data for noteworthy SNPs documented in SNPedia, you will get an interactive report. It contains information on whether or not you carry genetic variants that are linked to certain medical conditions, but you have to learn how to extract useful information (covered next)

If you are thinking of an organized report that just tells you what diseases you may get and what changes you should make, you will be disappointed that things are never that simple. Promethease is not a risk assessment tool. For example, you will not get a percentage likelihood for developing heart disease. Instead, the report gives you scientific literature references on specific SNPs that may be linked with heart disease. 

Note that it is also possible to have a SNP that tells you increased risk of something, yet another SNP telling you the exact opposite! Promethease lays out all the information it finds, but it is up to you or your genetic counsellor to interpret the results. Promethease is the data miner that pulls data from SNPedia and points you to things that are potentially useful.

Check out SNPedia’s page on Finding a genetic counsellor

How to use Promethease?

  1. Go to promethease.com and read their Terms and Conditions & Privacy Policy. 
  2. After you accept the terms, there is additional information about accepted data types, sample reports and an instructional video. The video is very helpful in guiding you through the whole process including navigating your report!
  3. Import raw DNA from URL or Upload. With the Upload option, you can add additional files that can help pool all your data together to generate one report (one person). 
  4. Purchase the test. One report costs $12 + $4 for every additional file you uploaded.
  5. It usually only takes less than 5 minutes for you to get the results. You will get a link to view the reports via Email. 
  6. The report begins with a tutorial that walks you through different sections on the report. Very helpful!
  7. Begin your exploration.

See more explanations on how to get your raw data.

Tips on understanding Promethease report 

Promethease is quite an advanced tool that can easily overwhelm you with data. To get the most out of it, the next few tips will be very handy! 

1. Walkthrough the Promethease tutorial

When you first go into your Promethease report, you will get a step-by-step walkthrough of the different terms and sections in your report. These pop-up boxes are very helpful to get a rough idea of what’s there.

For example, you can see that a particular SNP location is identified with a string of numbers beginning with ‘rs’. You can click on it to read all collected science papers that mentioned this SNP.

Promethease sample report

2. Get used to terminologies

Promethease uses some terms that are not intuitive at all. The first question users ask when they see the report is often “What is Magnitude?” or “What is Repute?”. Here are some of the basics:

  • Magnitude is a subjective rating of how interesting people think of a piece of information. This number can change overtime based on user behaviour. The lowest rating is 0, which means not interesting. Higher the value, more interesting it is to the average user.
  • Repute: Whether your variant version is “good” or “bad” for a trait. For example, if your variant is linked to decreased risk of cancer, that is a good thing.
  • ClinVar: ClinVar is a database managed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is generally considered trustworthy. It focuses primarily on single-point mutations associated with high risk for a certain disease. It is one of the filter options that can potentially lead you to more important findings. 

Below is an example of the SNP at location rs5376. You can learn from the description that this SNP is related to a receptor linked to a person’s empathy level. Since the example has an ‘A’ instead of a ‘G’ allele, the individual may be less empathetic, hence the “Bad” Repute. This SNP information has a Promethease Magnitude of 2.8, meaning that the community perceives it as an interesting thing to know about.

Promethease sample report
Promethease filter

For more detailed terminologies, check out the official Terminology page by SNPedia.

3. Use the filters

It is impractical to go through the massive amount of information from a Promethease report. This is why filters are necessary to help you get what’s really interesting to you. 

On the right-hand side of your dashboard, you will see that you can filter by “Topics”, “Medical Conditions” or “Magnitude”. You can also type in a gene of interest to directly search for it. 

When you are at this step, it is definitely a good idea to consult guides on filter settings:

4. See how others do it

Don’t get frustrated by yourself! There are many official resources and DNA enthusiasts’ tutorials that you can follow.

Official resources (SNPedia Promethease)

Other guides (Online blogs)

Frequently asked questions about Promethease

Can I see a Promethease sample report?

You are in luck! Promethease is one the very few that let you see exactly how a report looks like. Note that this is not just a static PDF, you can explore a sample report in interactive mode exactly like how it is. The Promethease Support Page even links you to different sample reports based on the DNA file you have, eg. see 23andMe Promethease Sample Report if you had DNA tested from 23andMe

Promethease sample report: http://files.snpedia.com/reports/promethease_data/genome_Lilly_Mendel_Mom__Full_20110426095409_ui2.html

Is Promethease free?

Promethease costs $12 for one file upload and $4 more for every additional file you uploaded.

How accurate is Promethease?

This is a tough question to answer as human traits and diseases are usually multifactorial. Genetics may help to explain to a certain extent, but this could be a lot (for single gene conditions) or very little (for environmentally-induced conditions). This means that predicting an aspect of your health based on genetics itself may not be accurate, regardless of what tool you use. That being said, Promethease connects your very own genetics to our latest science. This should be more accurate than many other general approaches. 

Put aside the ambiguous nature of this question, many Promethease users have said that they feel the results are accurate. Read more on this Reddit discussion: “How accurate is promethease?”

Is Promethease worth it?

By now, you probably feel that Promethease sounds so technical and scary! Is it worth the effort? Most users who took the leap said that it is worth it to them. Afterall, the test is just the price of two coffees but gives you so much information. At the end of the day, you are the one to decide whether you want this information. Read more on this Reddit discussion: “Is Promethease worth it?

Is Promethease safe?

According to Promethease’s Privacy Policy, you only give Promethease DNA for personal use but not commercial or research use. When you order a report with a registered account, your report will be deleted after 45 days. If you do not create an account, your DNA will be deleted after 24 hours. 

Note that Promethease was acquired by MyHeritage at the end of 2019. This means that you data may be automatically copied to MyHeritage and governed by MyHeritage. For more information, please check out the MeHeritage Terms and Conditions.

Does Promethease have limitations?

So far, we have focused on what you can do with Promethease. It seems that with an affordable price, you can get quite a bit of value. Now, what doesn’t Promethease do well in? 

  • Unlike other genetic testing companies that give you some sort of conclusions, Promethease does not do any interpretation for you. You need to have a lot of genetic knowledge or work with someone who does.
  • Since Promethease gives you so much data, many of the reports may be contradictory. Don’t be too surprised if you are shown evidence of simultaneous higher and lower risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Promethease only searches in SNPedia. There are other relevant and valuable scientific tools left out from Promethease reports.
  • Since Promethease simply lays out the search results without giving you advices, it is not regulated like other genetic testing companies (eg. Not FDA-monitored). 

How do users compare Promethease and other services?

Nowadays, a wide range of genetic analysis tools can give you all kinds of information. So comparing between different services are subjective and really depends on your goals. Check out others’ experiences on Promethease reddit forum discussions:

Conclusion

In conclusion, Promethease can direct you to thousands of scientific studies that have shown how your specific SNPs are linked to medical conditions like heart disease or breast cancer. Unlike genetic testing companies like 23andMe, Promethease does not provide you with a pretty graph or an interpretation in plain language. Instead, it is a very powerful data mining tool. you will find yourself becoming the “researcher”, learning at the forefront of the latest science and making judgements. Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that we are not looking at the whole genome but an array of SNPs that have been tested medically interesting. Before you jump to conclusions, know that there could be other genetic and environmental factors also affecting your health. As you dive into the complex research around genetic health, use this article to help and good luck!