In the crowded market of home DNA tests, 24Genetics has tried to stake their claim by offering some of the most comprehensive reports ever.
From a single DNA swab, you can pick and mix from 7 different reports. All of their reports are, according to the company, more detailed and extensive than any other service on the market.
Is this really the case?
Let’s take a look.
Who are 24Genetics?
Based in Spain with offices in the USA, Mexico and here in the UK, 24Genetics is a European biotechnology startup.
They offer comprehensive, direct to consumer DNA tests and are the biggest European company in this field.
They market themselves as leaders in comprehensive DNA reports, offering 7 different reports including ancestry, health, talent, sport and skin reports.
Their website and marketing emphasise the quality of their testing process and the detail of their reports. They use the latest technology from a sequencing company called Illumina to test your DNA.
They are checked and affiliated with the National Centre for Biotechnology which they claim is the most important body in biotechnology.
What Products Do They Offer?
24Genetics offers 7 different tests. These are:
- Talent and Personality
When you buy a kit, your sample is stored so that it can be analysed further if you choose to add another report at a later date.
Whichever report you chose, the results will be emailed to you. The report itself is a PDF document. There is no app on online interactivity like you get with tests such as Ancestry and 23andMe.
Let’s take a look at each of these tests in a bit more detail.
The health test report is hefty. The sample report they have on their website runs a whole 259 pages!
Clearly, this lives up to the comprehensive test claim. However, the report is just overwhelming.
The first few pages contain a methodology and then your summary. The summary runs about 7 pages! The amount of things they test for is incredible, it does put some competitors to shame.
However, the odds are that most of these things won’t apply to you. You’ll find yourself searching through the pages for the applicable results.
After the summary, the report goes through every single disease and condition. You get a description of the condition, your result, a box of genetic data and a link to an NCBI webpage for more information.
Again, the only ones that will be of interest or value to you are the ones that you have genetic markers for. This means that you are going to end up scrolling for ages to find relevant information.
The genetic data displayed is impenetrable. It just lists the gene, SNIP and the genotype. I’m not sure what these are or what they mean and the report doesn’t help. There is no extra information, no explanation.
This test determines what sort of response you are likely to have different medication.
There are four responses, normal, abnormal, harmful and positive. They make it very clear that you should not use these results to self-prescribe or medicate. Rather, the aim is to give you information that can help you become more involved in your care.
The test checks your response to 36 different medications including pain killers, neurological medication and oncology medicine.
It’s a unique test, for sure. No other big company seems to offer a pharmacogenetic test.
Interestingly, this test is not available to US customers. Perhaps the pharmacology businesses in the states are to blame for lack of pharma tests from US companies.
Again, the information provided in the report is a bit overwhelming. It runs nearly 50 pages and like the health report, most of it won’t apply to you.
This is not a food intolerance test. Rather, it is a test that looks at how your genes respond to different food types and habits.
The scale they use to display your results is a little bit confusing. It’s a six-point scale that goes from ‘your genotype is favourable’ to ‘your genotype is unfavourable.’
What that actually means is a bit unclear in the summary. You do get more information in the detailed results section. Here, they explain what it actually means to have genotypes that are favourable to excessive fat consumption.
One of the smaller reports, the information is interesting and could be used to make better food choices. However, they are very clear that you should discuss any diet and nutrition changes with your doctor or nutritionist.
Again, the detail of this report is unique. Competitors who offer health and wellness reports tend to include a few food-based tests.
Mainly they focus on how predisposed you are to carrying excessive weight or consuming things like caffeine. They do not get to mineral intake and macronutrients, as 24Genetics do.
This test measures your predisposition to different types of exercise, your muscle composition and your metabolic profile.
Again, this is a more detailed report than any offered by competitors. While you might find muscle composition or predisposition to a particular type of sport in reports from companies like 23andMe, the depth of 24Genetics report is astounding.
The scale used to display your results is the same six-point scale used in the nutrigenetics test. Again, it is a fairly vague scale and the explanations don’t tend to give much more information.
I suppose this might be a useful report if you are looking for information to inform your training and sports practice. Other than that, the information is fairly restricted and basic.
The skin test service looks at 19 different genetically influenced factors in your skin. It aims to give you information that can help you tailor and improve your skin care routine.
In this report you will find out how predisposed you are to tanning, acne and several vitamin deficiencies amongst other things.
It can help you understand what sort of products will help you maintain your skin. It will also help you understand the environmental factors that affect your skin.
Again, some of these results can be found in the reports of competitors. However, the dedicated and comprehensive nature of 24Genetics skin reports blows it’s competitors out of the water.
24Gentics claim to dive deeper into your genetic ancestry than any other test. Unfortunately, this claim is totally unsubstantiated.
Their ancestry test can identify genetic markers from 1500+ global regions. This is more than Ancestry DNA and many other competitors. However, 23andMe has expanded their own genetic region references to over 2000 regions.
The actual ancestry report is only 15 pages making it the shortest of all the reports. It provides very little information other than the percentages of your DNA and which locations they come from.
The regional information is also very much lacking. You get a breakdown of the areas from which your DNA likely comes, but unlike other competitors, you do not get a city breakdown.
Places like Wales and Scotland are treated as regions and there is no further information provided. 23andMe, for example, is able to estimate towns and cities within countries.
For a company who claims to provide the deepest dive into your genetic heritage, their report is seriously lacking.
Talent and Personality
This is an odd collection of tests that determine your disposition towards things like creativity, intelligence and weirdly your response to substances like cocaine. It’s an odd combination of tests to be honest.
Again, some of these tests are covered by competitors but there is definitely more in this report than competitors.
The information provided in the analysis is again pretty scarce and the same confusing scale is used. They do explain the scale results in the analysis section.
For example, you find out later in the report that an unfavourable deposition to cocaine actually means that you are more likely to become dependent on the substance.
This is where 24Genetics really falls down. The cost of their DNA tests is around double the cost of their competitors.
All of the tests will cost you over a hundred pound each. You can get a bundle deal which significantly reduces the cost but still makes it more expensive than competitors.
You could argue that the increased cost is a result of the extra detailed reports. However, many of the results on these reports are covered by competitors.
Most competitors also offer much more detailed explanations and discussions of your results. The reports offered by 24Genetics are barebones, even if they do test for lots of different things.
It’s the age old question of quality or quantity, and 24Genetics certainly falls into the trap of providing quantity rather than quality.
I’m just not sure how 24Genetics justifies their costing structure.
The lower cost of the all-in-one offer is definitely supposed to encourage you to buy in bulk rather than individual tests. You can request additional reports for a significantly reduced cost.
Evidently, the cost of their testing procedure is inordinate!
If you’ve already done a DNA test with another company, you can send your raw data to 24Gentics for further analysis. You can select any of their tests and they will look at your data to provide results. There is no need to do a further test.
The cost of analysing your raw data is pretty much as expensive as the original test you would have done with a competitor. This is for each report.
Unlike many of its competitors, 24Genetics use a swab test.
This is much easier than filling up a saliva tube and according to some studies, swabs are actually more reliable.
Once you’ve swapped your cheek, you package it up and send it back to the company. In the US you can schedule a free USPS pick up. In the rest of the world you need to pay for your postage.
There are two videos on their website that aim to help you with your collection. One video is supposed to give you a tutorial for using the swab collection. The other is a tutorial for giving a saliva sample.
Unfortunately, there seems to be an error in the links, as both videos are saliva sample tutorials.
This is a bit bizarre as none of their products are listed as saliva sample products.
Once shipped, you can expect to receive your results in ‘a few weeks.’ They don’t clarify exactly how long it’ll take but customer reviews seem to suggest that it can take up to 50 days for your results to be emailed.
This is much longer than competitors and quite disappointing considering the steep price.
There doesn’t seem to be much communication between 24Genetics and their customers. With competitors, particularly competitors who have an app, you can track the process of your sample.
With 24Genetics you just have to wait and hope for the best. It doesn’t build much confidence.
As previously mentioned, there is no app or online system for viewing your reports. You receive them as a PDF document. It’s a very hands off experience.
Once you’ve paid and received your report, that’s really the end of your involvement with 24Genetics.
Some may like this simple transaction. If you don’t like updating emails, app notifications and the like, then 24Genetics will suit you.
However, the lack of connection with the company also means your reports are static. Competitors like 23andMe and Ancestry are constantly updating their databases and reports.
You can check back in with these apps and see more information and new details. This isn’t possible with 24Genetics.
The lack of app or internet interface, also means there are no additional features like relative tracing or family trees. Again, considering the price you would expect basic features like this to be included.
The website is another aspect of this company that should be better considering the cost of the products.
Many of the pages on their website have simple spelling and grammatical errors. It makes reading and processing the information a bit of a pain.
Some may say that this is just a translation issue and it shouldn’t count against them. However, these translation errors also find their way into the reports.
They’re not critical errors, but it doesn’t really inspire confidence in the company when they can’t seem to use capital letters consistently when listing the regions.
Their website boasts that the reports are available in 5 different languages, English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. How correct these translations are, is anyone’s guess.
There doesn’t seem to be a dedicated customer service. As they bill themselves as a start-up, this is to be expected.
If you do want to contact the company for help or support, there is a general email address or postal address. They are fairly responsive but some customers do report delays.
There aren’t a great deal of customer reviews available for 24Genetics. This is likely because their user base isn’t as big as competitors.
However, the reviews that are available suggest that the health report is the best thing about the service.
It seems that some customers are impressed with the 200+ page report. They are very happy with the sheer number of conditions and diseases tested. For some customers the health report has alleviated some nagging worries and stresses.
In general, customers feel that there simply isn’t enough information or functionality to warrant the cost.
Long turnaround times also seem to frustrate most customers. Many were told it could take 4-8 weeks, but few actually received their results before the 8 week mark.
Look, to be totally honest with you, 24Genetics is fairly overpriced.
The reports lack the substance of other DNA testing companies even if they do ‘dive deeper’ in certain areas.
The 200+ pages in the health report looks impressive but it doesn’t convey very much actual information. This is mirrored across the other reports. Essentially, it’s a copy and paste situation.
The ancestry report is really lacking. If you want to know about your genetic heritage, you need to go somewhere else.
You don’t get any information outside of the location of your genetic markers and that is fairly scarce.
Another major disappointment is the lack of personalisation. Considering the cost of the tests, you’d expect a personalised service and a tailored experience.
You just do not get that.
Our recommendation is to look at competitors like 23andMe or Ancestry. They may not tell you if you’re more likely to become dependent on opioids, but they do at least provide personalised reports, and an interactive experience.