Nebula Genomics offers whole genome sequencing, weekly DNA reports, and ancestry analysis. Nebula DNA sequencing and reports cost between $149-999 depending on which package you opt for.
Nebula Genomics was founded by an experienced genomics scientist named Professor Church and his students Kamal Obbad and Dennis Grishin in 2016. The company is based in California. Their goal is to enable users to share genomic data safely in order to generate large datasets which can be used to advance the science of human genetics.
The core product of Nebula Genomics is whole genome sequencing with up to 100X sequencing depth allowing them to attain high accuracy DNA sequencing data. You can also subscribe to their research library, Nebula Explore, which allows you to compare your DNA to scientific literature in order to generate risk scores for certain health conditions.
Nebula also offers deep genetic ancestry which utilizes data in your Y chromosome and mitochondria to give you the most accurate ancestral information.
The reports in the Nebula Explore research library are laid out based on individual research studies. Each report is composed of information about genes from the findings from particular studies. These reports are updated weekly with new research articles, so if you hold an active subscription to Nebula Explore then you have access to new information weekly.
See below an example of a report on ‘thinness’ from Nebula Explore:
All of the reports contain a general overview of the subject and the study along with an interesting fact about the subject. This section also contains your polygenic risk score (your percentile) relative to other Nebula Genomics users, however, this score is not necessarily indicative of how this condition is relative to your health.
Following this general overview of the selected study, you will have access to a table which lays out the genetic findings of the study along with your genotype to inform you whether you are at an increased or decreased risk of exhibiting the trait. See an example of this table below:
Whilst this chart can be informative, the terms used are fairly scientific and may not be as easy to understand for the average person who has little knowledge of how genetics studies work. Nebula also provides links to additional information on the topic at the bottom of each report.
You can also access mini-reports on several well established genetic traits, which include an SNP, a summary and a link to the study. However, these reports don’t contain any recommendations on how to counteract any of your genetic predispositions.
The reports look at four types of traits: appearance & hormones, behavior & perception, body & athleticism, and nutrition & diet. The mini-report below for example is about how you handle nicotine:
Nebula Genomics ancestry offering is a fairly recent addition. They offer in depth ancestry reporting based on Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA. You can access your ancestry report by navigating to the ancestry review and selecting the My Data option. This will provide you with a breakdown of your ancestral heritage as a percentage based on different regions from around the world. See below an example of this report:
As well as providing your own DNA, Nebula also provides you with a report on the bacteria which live in your mouth. They do this using the same technology used to generate your DNA, but instead generate the data for the bacteria in your saliva DNA sample.
This is useful as the oral microbiome has been linked to conditions like Irritable Bowel Disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Your data is provided in the format shown below. You are given a percentile showing how your oral microbiome compares to other users along with information from curated studies about how your oral microbiome may be linked to particular conditions, however, bear in mind this is not designed in any way to be a diagnostic tool.
In order to fully utilize Nebula’s research library, you will need to have whole genome sequencing data which they provide in three separate packages. The basic package at $99 offers 0.4X coverage, which essentially means it is far less accurate than their more expensive packages. You can also opt for the deep package for $299 which offers 30X coverage or their ultra deep package which offers 100X coverage for $999. The basic package doesn’t sequence all of your DNA. The only difference between the 30X and 100X packages is how sure you can be about the accuracy of your data.
You should bear in mind that Nebula Genomics will not pre-pay your shipping outside of the USA meaning you will have to cover the costs of shipping your sample to Hong Kong.
Once you have received your genetic data, you will have a 14-day free trial of the Nebula Genomics reporting service; however, after this trial, you will have to pay $20 per month or $700 for lifetime access to this service.
Once your data is generated, you are able to download it and utilize this data with other services if you don’t want to take this subscription.
Nebula also accepts raw DNA data upload from other service providers.
The main question when it comes to whether to use Nebula Genomics for your DNA sequencing is whether or not it’s worth paying for whole genome sequencing, and the simple answer is no.
Currently, whole genome sequencing costs a lot more than your standard DNA sequencing service used by companies like 23andMe and SelfDecode, however, these companies are able to use complex algorithms to generate variations of millions of genetic variants.
Whole genome sequencing is not currently mainstream, which means you won’t get as many benefits from this data, like being able to upload it to other services, as you would from more typical and cheaper ~$99 kits which are widely used by a range of DNA service providers.
Whilst the amount of data generated by whole genome sequencing is unmatched, the reference data to compare your own data to is lacking. There also isn’t a lot of information to be gained from large parts of our DNA as the science simply isn’t that far ahead. However, having this data for the future may be useful.
Whilst this data may come in handy further down the line as the technology progresses, it doesn’t necessarily represent value for money in 2021.
Nebula Genomics offers a great deal of literature for customers to compare their genetic data to, which allows them to identify whether they are predisposed to a specific condition or trait. However, this is as far as their health information goes.
Unfortunately whilst customers may be able to identify that they are genetically predisposed to be at a greater risk of a particular health condition, they aren’t provided with any further information on what may increase or decrease their risk.
This is quite a large gap in the information they provide, as it can be quite discomforting to know you are at risk of certain negative health conditions.
Nebula Genomics takes particular care when it comes to the privacy and security of their users’ data. They store their customers’ data using blockchain technology which you may have heard of before as this is the same technology that is used for cryptocurrency. Nebula claims that by storing their users’ data this way, it makes it more secure in the event of any data breach.
Nebula actually takes security so seriously that they now offer anonymous genetic sequencing. What this means is that they allow you to pay for their services anonymously using cryptocurrency or a pre-paid credit/debit card, sign up to their site anonymously, browse their site anonymously using a VPN and ship anonymously to a location of your choice.
Whilst this process can be anonymous, Nebula Genomics does also share all of the data they process with researchers, however, again this is done so anonymously.
Depending on what aspect of genetic testing you’re interested in, there are alternatives to Nebula Genomics.
If you’re particularly interested in investigating your heritage, then services like Ancestry.com or 23andMe are a great option, because these companies have the biggest customer databases allowing them to provide you with the most accurate insights into your ancestry.
If finding out about your health through your genetics is of interest to you, then whilst Nebula Genomics can provide you with some insight into your health predispositions, you really should look for a service which specializes in health reporting like SelfDecode.
SelfDecode not only helps you identify your genetic health predispositions, but their wellness reports also include personalized recommendations to counteract specific problematic genetic variants, giving you the best in precision medicine.
SelfDecode has also recently released a new updated version of wellness reports which use predictive algorithms to analyze around 83 million genetic variants (~1 million per wellness report), giving you the most accurate health data based on your genetics.
|Personalized & holistic health recommendations|
DNA testing, wellness reports, research-based health recommendations, lab test analyzer
|WGS, health reporting, traits, ancestry|
DNA testing, traits, wellness reports, more accurate ancestry
|Raw data upload|
|Raw data access|
$97 – $387
|$0 (limited) – $999+|
$99 – $499
Trustpilot – 4.1 of 5 stars
Overall the reviews of Nebula Genomics on Trustpilot are positive, however, there are two relatively frequent complaints being that the test results took longer to arrive than expected and that the reports are difficult to gain useful information from.
Better Business Bureau – 3 of 5 stars
There are only 5 reviews for Nebula Genomics on the BBB, and the theme of these reviews is relatively similar to Trustpilot, however, the Nebula Genomics account on BBB has refuted the negative reviews.
Nebula Genomics brings whole genome sequencing technology to the consumer market offering more data than any other service, however, more doesn’t necessarily mean better. A lot of the information can’t currently be used to gain useful insights into your health or ancestry. This means that whilst you may gain some benefit from this type of data in the future, currently the value for money isn’t quite there.
If you’re looking for the best value for money in ancestry or health reporting now, rather than looking to pay a premium for data which may have more uses in the future, then you may be better suited looking elsewhere. When it comes to ancestry, 23andMe and AncestryDNA offer the largest databases allowing them to provide the most accurate information about your heritage.
If health reports are what interest you, you should choose a dedicated health service like SelfDecode, which not only provides you with genetic insights, but also personalized recommendations to optimize your health. SelfDecode’s new updated platform uses AI and machine learning to accurately predict and analyze up to 83 million SNPs from a typical DNA test, for a fraction of the price of whole genome sequencing.