What is WeGene?
WeGene is a genetic testing company headquartered in China’s Technology and Innovation hub, Shenzhen. It specializes in analysing the genetics of Chinese people. Although WeGene has an English website that intends to serve customers from worldwide, it currently doesn’t have nearly as much information and functions as the Chinese site.
The mission of WeGene is to help Chinese people understand their genetic data by providing comprehensive science-based insights ranging from ancestry to psychology. Since being established in 2015, WeGene has had rapid growth, acquiring reputable partners including illumine, BGI and top-tier Chinese universities.
Today, WeGene is best known for its detailed Chinese-centered Ancestry Report. Most genetic testing companies will show you Southeast Asian and no further. But WeGene breaks ancestry down to many local ethnic groups.
What does WeGene offer and is it free?
For users outside China
For users outside China, WeGene does not offer direct DNA tests due to current policy limitations. However, users can import 23andMe or AncestryDNA data to obtain a free Ancestry Report. WeGene also plans to roll out direct DNA tests in the future at the price of $99.
The team at WeGene explained that in the early days of WeGene, there was not enough funds to develop direct DNA testing kits. Thus, the first service was to re-analyse data imported from 23andMe.
Although reports were in Chinese, WeGene still attracted foreigners who were interested in their Asian roots or had adopted children from China. WeGene intends to keep these reports free for the future.
WeGene vs 23andMe
Now, WeGene has its own testing kit, but it has some differences compared to 23andMe:
- 23andMe can predict whether a gene mutation came from the Father or the Mother. WeGene is still working on this function.
- 23andMe has accumulated a massive data bank that far exceeds WeGene at the moment.
- Comparable numbers of SNPs are tested on both chips but WeGene is tailored to provide more accurate and detailed results for the Chinese population.
For users within China
For local Chinese, WeGene offers 2 different types of direct DNA tests.
Standard SNP-based test
- ¥499 (~$70)
- Tests 1.2 million highly valuable SNPs and 20 million potentially valuable SNPs
- 9 reports
- Approximately 200 official insights and 300+ third party interpretations
- Lifetime report updates for free
Whole genome sequencing
- ¥3999 (~$570)
- Tests all 3 billion base pairs in the human genome
- More complete and accurate reports compared to the standard test
- Tests on Indels, Copy Number Variations and Structural Variations
How to use WeGene?
For users outside China
- Click on the “Import 23andMe data” or “Import AncestryDNA data” on WeGene’s English website.
- Create a WeGene login account.
- Upload your raw DNA data.
- Log back on in a few days to access the free Ancestry Report.
For users inside China
- Purchase a DNA test kit through WeGene website or its page on Wechat. The payment options are through AliPay or Wechat.
- Register for a WeGene account through WeGene’s website or its page on Wechat.
- Add the 14-digit number on the test kit to your account.
- Spit into the DNA collection tube following the instructions provided.
- Send back the kit to WeGene for laboratory testing.
How long does WeGene take to give results?
For users who imported data from 23andMe or AncestryDNA, the free Ancestry Report will be available in 2-3 days.
For Chinese users who took a DNA test with WeGene, it generally takes 4 weeks to finalize all the reports. You can log into your account on WeGene’s website or Wechat page to track and access the reports.
For most users, WeGene Ancestry report is the most interesting as it provides detailed breakdown of:
- Maternal Haplogroup
- Paternal Haplogroup
- Neanderthal Ancestry
Within Composition, you get a percentage for each of the 56 Chinese ethnic groups as well as other Asian countries.
The Maternal and Paternal Haplogroup pages show some very interesting insights, including:
- Haplogroup tree
- Origin time
- Migration route on map
- Famous people in history with your haplogroup
Lastly, you will also be given a percentage of ancient Neanderthals, including associated health risks.
Health Risks Report
Similar to other genetic testing companies, WeGene offers genetic risk information based on assessment of disease-associated genetic variants. The Health Risk Report is the largest among all reports, containing 111 insights on risks categorized by different body systems.
Among them, the test for Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease is highlighted on the website.
Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease develops over age 65 and is major health concern in aging populations like China.
WeGene tests for the ε4 variant in the APOE gene associated with an increased risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Apart from the main Ancestry and Health reports, WeGene offers a range of other insights to its Chinese users.
- Genetic diseases: 80 insights
- Psychology: 26 insights
- Fitness: 17 insights
- Skin conditions: 16 insights
- Metabolism: 15 insights
- Medications: 14 insights
- Hereditary traits: 12 insights
- Research projects: 12 insights
Is WeGene accurate?
WeGene claims to have an accuracy rate of above 99% for raw genetic data as strict quality control procedures are implemented. WeGene’s analyses are based on a database optimized for the East Asian population.
Understandably, the genetic interpretations are based on peer-reviewed publications, but are subjected to non-genetic factors such as environment and lifestyle.
Although WeGene has been recommended to East Asians, some Koreans and Japanese people found it wildly inaccurate. WeGene users on Reddit said that it seems WeGene likes to proclaim most Asians as Chinese.
For users outside Asia, WeGene’s ancestry results are accurate on the continental level, but become problematic at the regional level.
Check out others’ experiences with WeGene.
Is WeGene safe?
WeGene seems to take privacy seriously by promising 3 things:
- All data is strictly safeguarded to prevent others from accessing it without users’ permission
- WeGene does not leak users’ data to any third parties
- WeGene will implement the best technical safety measures to protect data from illegal manipulation and theft.
Is WeGene worth it?
- Comprehensive analysis of Asian ancestry
- Numerous reputable partners (Technology companies and research institutes)
- Active discussions in the Chinese community
- Free Ancestry Report for imported data
- Free lifetime updates
- Inaccurate results reported for non-Asian users
- No paid services and reports currently available outside China
- Discussions are almost exclusively in Chinese only
In conclusion, it seems that WeGene is a great choice for Chinese users, which is also the intention for the company. WeGene has a very solid science and technology background and is striving for state-of-the-art breakthroughs via partnerships with top-tier research institutes. Although WeGene current does not sell to people outside China, it offers a free Ancestry Report with any 23andMe or AncestryDNA import. This could be a great opportunity for people born outside China interested in their Asian roots.