October 24, 2019
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Promethease: What are the Benefits?

Promethease DNA is a literature retrieval system that can give you direct access to scientific papers that other companies base reports on.
Tomohiro Takano

Many reviews of Promethease tend to overfocus on its complex user interface, which may scare away some potential users. However, they should take a second look. A Promethease report is actually a very powerful tool tied to one of the world’s largest databases of genetic variant research studies. 

What Exactly is Promethease?

Unlike other DNA companies that charge you for a curated tour of some aspects of your genetics, Promethease connects you directly to the vast and unfiltered world of scientific literature. DNA testing services like 23andMe document a few dozen rather common genetic predispositions and health reports, but this is actually just scratching the surface of genetic research.

Promethease uses the genetic wiki database at SNPedia.com to analyze all 600,000 or-so SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphisms) measured by your DNA testing company. For $12, the platform will link research on each of the genetic variants to the actual nucleotides you carry. The resulting report is enormous. In fact, navigating the report is what intimidates some reviewers, who would rather hire a genetic counselor than sift through it themselves.  

However, it has become much easier to navigate with the newest version of Promethease, which provides a quick tutorial. Plus, Promethease has some other great benefits for analyzing your genetic data that you should check out. 

The Benefits of Promethease

A Guided Tutorial for Free

While there are detailed blogs from genetic genealogists and professional researchers about how to use Promethease with your raw data file, one easy way to see if you will like the platform is to try it out with a sample report. Simply go to this free Promethease.com Sample Report, and read through the tutorial slowly. Most of the complex terminology is described on SNPedia, and links are provided. 

Take your time understanding everything, and you will be digging through your genome’s health information in no time! This tutorial has basically everything you need to truly understand all the information available from genetic testing.

All the Health Research You Could Possibly Need

It only takes a few clicks to dive into the entire scientific conversation revolving around genes and certain conditions. 

For example, you can easily research a person’s increased or decreased risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease, based on the genes they carry. In fact, it can be done in only a few clicks. Under the “ClinVar Diseases” filter on the right toolbar, simply scroll down and select “Alzheimer disease” as seen in the image below. The disease has over 45 correlated genetic variants, and you can explore the science and hypothesis behind each one.

Sort Results on Your Parameters

The second greatest feature is the ability to sort your results by particular parameters. Continuing with the Alzheimer’s search, it is easy to get to the most researched genetic variables. This will provide more reputable results, and it will stop you from getting weak correlations that may not mean anything. Try changing the minimum number of publications from 0 to 20.

Now, there will only be a couple of genetic variants that have been reported in at least 20 studies. Look for the ones with a “Repute” score, as this will tell you if they are generally considered a “good” or “bad” mutation by users on SNPedia. Using the other filters and options, you can sort the results in a number of other ways. Just remember, these are just correlations and you should still consider your family history and medical history while evaluating your overall risk. 

Cheaper than Hiring a Grad Student

If you are really looking for all the research you can find, a personal DNA report from Promethease is the way to go. $12 is a lot cheaper than hiring a genetics graduate student to sort through your DNA data file and pull all of the relevant studies and associations. After you have found the genetic variants that interest you, simply click on the hyperlinked name of the genetic variant, or “Genos”, to learn more about specific SNPs and medical conditions they are tied to.

Clicking on this part of the Promethease results will take you to a SNPedia article which highlights the research related to this variation, as well as links to the direct studies. Some of the studies are free to access, while others you will have to access through a library or research institution with a subscription. However, most of the relevant genetic information is typically documented within SNPedia.

No Sales Spin

Researchers don’t write scientific articles for the general public. Some consider this a disadvantage, as the statistics and methodology of most studies are far above the average user’s understanding. That being said, researchers are also not trying to sell anything, which means they don’t try to oversimplify anything.  

While many DNA analysis companies like to simply the results of a DNA test for the benefit of their users, actual DNA science is far from a black-and-white science. Different studies come up with different amounts of correlation between specific SNPs, which is often oversimplified into some sort of good-to-bad visual for the lay-user. 

Promethease reports give you almost none of this, besides the “Repute” rating based on other user’s votes. This works to help give a basic understanding of a particular genotype, but it doesn’t necessarily break down whether you are at high risk for certain conditions. That is for you to determine based on your health, history, and analysis of the compiled articles. 

Not Looking for a Research Project?

While Promethease is a pretty awesome tool for researchers and citizen-scientists alike, it is not for everyone. DNA testing is enormously complex and for many people, Promethease may sound like an excursion into madness. Those people should check out these other DNA analysis websites, many of which are free and provide much of the same reliable information provided on a Promethease report, without all the searching. You can upload your raw data and get a report for free at several of these sites. 

To find out more DNA upload sites, check out our article "The Best DNA Upload Sites"

Tomohiro Takano
Tomohiro Takano
Co-Founder and CEO