Nebula Genomics is a DNA testing company founded in 2016 by award-winning genomics pioneer Prof. George Church and Harvard graduates Kamal Obbad and Denis Grishin. Its corporate offices are located in San Francisco and Boston, two major global centers of biotech and tech innovations. The company is backed by some of the leading venture capital firms, including Arch Venture Partners, Khosla Ventures, Mayfield, Fenbushi Capital, GreatPoint Ventures, F-Prime Capital Partners, Mirae Asset, and Hemi Ventures.
The main idea behind the company is helping its customers understand their genomes and familiarize themselves with genetic information encoded in their DNA. It is also one of the rare DNA testing companies that utilize blockchain technology to keep your data private, secure, and immutable.
This comprehensive Nebula Genomics review will go over the company’s testing solutions, explore its implemented screening and sequencing protocols, analyze its aforementioned security & privacy measures, and outline some of its most prominent advantages and potential shortcomings.
How Nebula Genomics Works
Nebula Genomics follows the usual direct-to-customer protocol, which includes the following steps:
Registration – To place an order, you first have to create a personal account on the official website. After providing (and verifying) your email address and password, you will be prompted to choose your privacy settings and fill out a short health and family history questionnaire (skippable). At that point, you will gain access to your personal Nebula dashboard and all the functionalities it has to offer.
Placing an order – Apart from editing your personal profile and earning credits by inviting friends and taking surveys, your dashboard allows you to visit the shop screen and place your order. Nebula Genomics usually takes up to 2 weeks to dispatch a personal at-home testing kit after receiving an order.
Sample collection – Once the saliva collection kit arrives, you will be able to collect the required specimen and send it back to the lab for further processing. Note that the saliva tube features a sticker with a unique kit ID, used to connect your biological sample with your Nebula account. Without this code, you will not be able to register your sample and generate a viable report.
Receiving the results – Around 8 weeks after receiving your sample, the lab will extract, sequence, and analyze your DNA and generate a report, accessible through your personal dashboard. If you so choose, you can also download your genomic data in VCF and BAM formats, which are two of the most commonly used formats for encoding genomic information.
Every step of the way, you are in full control of your personal data. With this in mind, you can choose to share it with researchers working in the field of genomics or prevent anybody from using it. If you do choose to participate in the ongoing research projects, your data will be anonymized and nobody granted access will be able to identify you as an individual.
Why Choose Nebula Genomics
Nebula Genomics is one of the pioneers of blockchain technology in the world of genetic mapping and direct-to-customer DNA testing. Here are some other prominent advantages:
- Founded by an award-winning genomics pioneer
- Low-pass sequencing option with ~99 accuracy
- More than 1.3 billion sites in the sequence
- Raw data available
- Data upload from AncestryDNA and 23andMe
- Reasonable turnaround times
- Collect credits for free sequencing
- Ancestry, genetic traits, and microbiome sequencing
- Access to excellent online educational tools
- Solid security configuration, including AES-256 cipher
- Free shipping in the US
- Refunds available
- Vigilant customer support
Nebula Genomics currently features only a low-pass sequencing option (0.4 coverage) at a price of $149.99. Its accuracy is around 99% and it provides you with more than 1.3 billion sites in your genetic sequence, which is significantly more than mainstream DNA tests are capable of covering.
As already mentioned in this Nebula Genomics review, you will be able to download your raw data and use it to explore your ancestral migration routes, mitochondrial haplogroups, Neanderthal DNA percentage, and more. Apart from this, your results will include oral microbiome sequencing (the microbes in your mouth) and a list of genetic traits, including diet, nutrition, and wellness. Finally, you will gain access to blockchain-based secure storage.
Nebula Genomics plans on introducing clinical-grade Whole Genome Sequencing as well in the future (>99.99% accuracy), but this option WILL cost significantly more than the aforementioned low-pass sequencing.
If you cannot afford the test at the moment, Nebula allows you to earn free sequencing by collecting credits on the official website. You earn credits by inviting up to five friends, completing surveys, and importing data. Once you reach 1,000 credits, you will receive a completely free sequencing, which is definitely a unique opportunity on the current DNA testing market.
Finally, you can also upload your AncestryDNA or 23andMe reports in ZIP or TXT formats for a more comprehensive report.
The other product at your disposal is the so-called Nebula Explore, which comes at a price of 6.99$ per month with a minimum 1-year commitment (83.88$ total). This option grants you unlimited access to personalized updates and new genomic research as well as priority access to research studies and opportunities.
The last point we need to cover here is the Nebula Library, which represents an excellent educational tool with a wide variety of curated research studies added on a weekly basis. This thesaurus also has a practical component since it will outline how the results of the latest scientific studies apply to your genomic data.
Privacy And Security
Nebula Genomics collects the following personal data:
- Registration information – Name, email, password, phone number (optional)
- Payment information – Credit card information, shipping & billing address
- Feedback and correspondence – Information you provide when communicating with the company
- Survey information – Personal traits, behavioral and social information, physical or mental health, medical conditions, symptoms, diseases, and other medical information
- Genetic information – DNA extracted from the provided saliva sample
- DNA kit activation information – The ID of your kit, sex, year of birth
The company uses the collected information to provide its services and generate sequencing reports for its customers.
As we already mentioned in this Nebula Genomics review, the company utilizes blockchain technology to improve corporate transparency and overall control over genetic data. It is currently developing its proprietary blockchain infrastructure that will serve as a ledger for user consent settings as well as any requests for access to user data.
When it comes to sharing your data with third parties, Nebula enumerates the following cases:
- You sharing your data through the implemented sharing features
- Sharing your information for research purposes
- Sharing necessary data with third-party service providers
- Sharing aggregated, de-identified information
- Disclosing your information when requested to do so by law
- Sharing for business purposes (merger, acquisition, dissolution)
In accordance with your European data protection rights, you can always request access to your personal data or rectify or erase it. You can withdraw your consent (if previously given) for any future processing and object to data processing under certain circumstances.
Nebula Genomics will retain your personal information for as long as necessary to provide you with the requested services, comply with its legal obligations, enforce its agreements, resolve potential disputes, and for other lawful and legitimate business purposes. Your account profile information will be kept until your account exists. Of course, you can request data erasure prior to this, if you so choose. This information is destroyed automatically the moment you delete your account unless some regulatory obligation demands otherwise (court order, subpoena,). If you want to access, change or delete information unavailable on your personal dashboard, you can always contact the company with your request at Legal@nebula.org.
Finally, according to the official website, all information and interactions are encrypted via AES-256 cipher, which is the encryption currently used by the military and major banks. It is the most secure option we have at the moment, virtually unbreakable by modern computers.
Shipping And Handling
At the moment, Nebula Genomics is only shipping its testing kits within the US, but this should change in the near future. Shipping in the US is completely free of charge.
As already stated in this Nebula Genomics review, the company usually dispatches collection kits around a week after receiving your order. The estimated time of arrival depends on your current location.
When it comes to refunds, the Nebula Sequencing test becomes non-refundable the moment your personal saliva kit is sent to you. Nebula Explore, on the other hand, can be refunded BEFORE you send the kit back for processing, up to 60 days after your order was placed. If you do not request cancellation from the Nebula support team, the company will still charge the full 1-year price after 60 days even if you did not send the kit back.