Learn the tools to unlock your DNA and empower your life decisions.
iGene108 is an education and sequencing company with a unique brand of honesty, cyber security awareness, bioinformatic skill, and medical expertise. What makes us unique? We are fundamentally distinct from other currently available services in three special ways.
1. Our primary mission is education. Unlike other companies that take your DNA, sequence it, and push it through an automated pipeline to generate a generic report in the form of a PDF, interactive webpage, or app, we personalize the journey. We provide over one hundred minutes of face-to-face time with bioinformaticians who teach you how to visualize your own data, scientists who analyze your mutations with you, and physicians who discuss any concerns you may have about your sequence findings or your health. We know that each person is unique in both their DNA and their desire to learn about their specific mutations. From interactive computer modeling to hands-on visualization of your DNA sequence, iGene108's primary goal to provide YOU with the education and academic resources that you need to empower you to take control of your own genetic information.
2. We utilize cutting-edge sequencing technology to analyze the entire protein-coding region of your DNA, a method called exome sequencing. This is the safest, best understood, and most comprehensive method of DNA testing available in light of current technology and scientific understanding. Full genome sequencing companies should be approached with extreme caution. Though they may claim to provide more information, the interpretation of whole genome data from non-protein-coding regions in the context of health and disease lags far behind the sequencing technology. Companies that urge full genome sequencing often have undisclosed reasons for wanting to exploit your full genome sequence. We are committed to safely and honestly providing you with quality education and comprehensive DNA testing.
3. We are entirely client-centered, committed to providing your data to you and only you and empowering you with the tools to understand it. We have no secrets and no hidden agendas. We provide your aligned sequence and mutation data directly to you on a USB drive. If you want to bring a personal laptop, our bioinformaticians will help you install a genome visualization software that you can use at home to visualize your own sequence data. Moreover, as the science advances, you always have your own DNA data in hand to reevaluate in the context of newly discovered disease risks. Though we don't keep your data unless you want us to, our physicians and scientists are also happy to meet with you again as new discoveries are made to re-interpret your DNA in the context of new cutting-edge research.
The human genome is just over 3 billion base pairs of DNA, present in two copies (one from mom, one from dad). Currently, most other companies perform a type of sequencing that only considers specific positions in the genome previously found to be associated with complex diseases or genetic traits. These specific positions, known as "single nucleotide polymorphisms" or SNPs, make up at most only 1 million positions in the human genome. These SNPs have been chosen because researchers have observed that people with certain SNPs tend to get certain diseases more frequently than people without them. Though this information is indirect and incomplete, it still provides useful associations for disease risk. Other companies also perform targeted sequencing to look directly for disease-causing changes in one or two specific genes, like BRCA for breast cancer. Targeted sequencing is useful to verify mutation status in a handful of genes, but you can only get information about those few genes for which you search.
iGene108 provides a more informative, newer, and more comprehensive type of sequencing called exome sequencing. Rather than only considering a few restricted positions, exome sequencing targets the ~30 million highest-yield and best-understood base pairs that code for proteins in the human genome, essentially all of the possible protein-coding regions of targeted sequencing together. This data provides much more information about rare, inherited diseases that can have devastating consequences for health. Since the protein-coding portion of the genome is the part that is best understood, exome sequencing is today the most comprehensive method for interpreting DNA in the context of health and disease.
While there are now a few full genome sequencing companies that target all 3 billion base pairs in the genome, one should approach these companies with extreme caution. While full genome sequencing is technologically the most comprehensive, the science has not yet caught up with the technology; there is very, very little known about how to interpret mutations in noncoding DNA. Most of these other companies are associated with research labs and may be using your data for research purposes to begin to better understand this noncoding DNA. These companies may be charging you for gathering your entire genome data, restricting their analysis to infer those few SNP positions or coding positions that are well understood (by filtering down the data to a "virtual exome"), using these few positions to generate automated and impersonal reports or apps, and exploiting the rest of your data for their own purposes.
To make this simpler, let's imagine that trying to understand what your genes tell you about your health is like reading a book. Let's say you come across Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree on your bookshelf and want to try to figure out the meaning of the word "happy" in the book. Targeted sequencing is like trying to find just one specific instance of the word "happy" by only looking at, for example, the last line in The Giving Tree. You will only gather information about the one particular line at which you are directly looking. Single nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP testing, on the other hand, is another way to quickly gather a small amount of information, but this time in an indirect way. SNP testing is like skipping to every 30th line and looking for the letter "h." Though you missed out on a lot of information in every 1st through 29th line, the few lines that contain the letter "h." that you searched may or may not be associated with the concept of happiness. You could try and make some indirect connections, just like how SNPs might be indirectly associated with disease risk.
The most logical method to get at the question is to read the book cover-to-cover and pull out all instances of the word "happy" in each of their individual contexts. Exome sequencing is indeed like directly searching for all instances of the word "happy" in the book and analyzing the context around just those words. This is much more comprehensive and efficient than picking out only one line (targeted sequencing) or skipping to every 30th line, looking for the letter "h," and making indirect assumptions (SNP testing).
Whole genome sequencing, on the other hand, is like finding all instances of the word "happy" in every single printed work in your house. You would have to go through not only every single book on your bookshelf, but also meaningless contexts like the blurb on the back of your shampoo bottle, the car wash receipt in your pocket, and the take-out menu in the junk mail in your recycling bin. This is way more information than can be interpreted logically! You might astutely decide to filter down all of your results to just the instances of the word "happy" in The Giving Tree. This is essentially what is currently done in full genome sequencing too, where data from all DNA base pairs in the genome are filtered down to just those in the protein-coding regions, making a "virtual exome" which can be interpreted meaningfully.
Why would you waste your resources and time searching through all of the data in the first place? Many companies that offer full genome sequencing do so at more than just a financial cost. They might be keeping your data so that they can start to build a large database of non-coding DNA from healthy people for research purposes. One day we might be able to apply their findings to understand how non-coding DNA affects health and disease too, but this day is far in the future. Moreover, data used for research purposes, even extremely sensitive personal information like a full genome sequence, may one day become public information in some form. Be sure to approach any company offering whole genome sequence interpretation with extreme caution and ensure that they are not using or storing your data for alternative purposes.
Did you know that if you get your DNA sequenced through a research-affiliated company, it could become public information? In fact, if any research institution uses your data and publishes any findings from it, even as part of a large study of hundreds of people, they might even be required to make it publically available.
Unlike a lost credit card, once you lose jurisdiction over your own DNA, you can't just cancel the number and get a new one. Each person's DNA is as unique as a fingerprint. More than just a fingerprint, though, it contains information about potential health conditions and traits now and in the future. Your DNA doesn't just share information about your health and capabilities; it also shares information about your blood relatives including parents, siblings, and present or potential children and grandchildren as well. This is priceless information that many entities--insurance companies, advertisement agencies, even potential employers--can misuse if they can get a hold of it. Don't get cyber-hacked!
At iGene108, we are committed to empowering you and your family with your health information in a secure and honest manner. We are an education and sequencing company, not affiliated with any research institutions, that sequences, analyzes, and provides your data to you and only you. What you chose to do with your data afterwards is entirely up to you. Unlike most research institutions that utilize cloud or cluster computing through the internet, we ensure your data is safe "off the grid" on custom physical hardware entirely distinct from any cloud or wireless storage or analysis platform. At iGene108 we don't have any hidden agendas or undisclosed plans to exploit your data or make it public. We simply want to provide you with the education and health information that you need to be able to understand your DNA. Let's learn and live. Together.
What if my sequencing data suggest increased risk for a disease?
If we find anything concerning in your data, we will let you know that it is something to follow up on with your primary physician. Because we are an education company rather than a medical practice, we cannot provide specific medical recommendations or confirmatory testing. However, we will provide you with the data, information, and understanding that you need to empower yourself to take control of your health.
Is my data safe with iGene108? Will it be sold or used for research?
Your data is YOURS and only yours. We are an education company, not affiliated with any universities, research laboratories, or hidden agendas. We will NOT distribute your data to anyone, not even for research purposes. Because we physically give you your data, you can chose to do whatever you wish with it. Moreover, because we analyze all of our data in de-identified form and on physical hard-drives rather than a wireless cloud server, our storage is secure and hack-proof by any wireless means. If you chose to have us securely store your data for additional time past your final consultation date, this is also done in de-identified form and on physical hard-drives rather than a wireless cloud server, i.e. "off the grid."
How much do the plans cost, and do you offer any discounts?
We currently offer two plans, one of which is available at a discounted rate for families. The "Education Only" plan costs $1,020 per individual over the age of 7 and includes as many or as few of the offered workshops as you wish to attend over the course of a year. Children under the age of 7, accompanied by parents or a legal guardian, are free in the "Education Only" plan. The "Exome Gold" plan costs $3,000 per person and includes over 100 minutes of one-on-one time (8 minute DNA collection, 60 minute bioinformatics workshop, and 40 minute consultation with our physicians) plus the "Education Only" plan for a year. We offer a family discount on the "Exome Gold" plan where the first family member costs $3,000 and every additional family member is discounted $250. So a family of four would cost $11,250 ($3,000 + $2,750 + $2,750 + $2,750) instead of $12,000 for the entire family. We are happy to provide more details about the family plan.
How long does it take to get my exome sequenced?
You can expect the process to take anywhere from one to three months from your first DNA collection with iGene108 until it has been sequenced, analyzed, and is ready for you to learn to visualize it. Wait times vary based on the quality of the DNA sample and the availability of the sequencing machines.
How do you collect my DNA?
We will collect your DNA from a cheek swab at your first visit. A swab will be gently rubbed over the inside of your cheek.
Can I bring my children to iGene108 events?
Yes! We have educational games and demos designed for children of all ages and encourage the whole family to sign up for our program. We only ask that you or a legal guardian accompany any children at all times.
I just found out that my relative/neighbor was found to have a mutation in a specific gene. Can you check if I have that mutation too?
Yes, absolutely, as long as it is within a protein-coding stretch of DNA (exome), we can check what your sequence data shows. Most disease-causing mutations that are well characterized and tested for clinically are within protein-coding DNA, so this should not be a problem. Before your one-on-one consultation with our physicians, you will be sent a survey by email to identify any diseases or genes about which you are particularly concerned or curious. Be sure to mention this gene in your pre-consultation survey.
Can I bring in my medical records to discuss with the physician?
Yes. Because of privacy concerns, iGene108 will not keep any of your medical records on file, nor will we accept medical records in electronic or physical correspondence. Nevertheless, you are welcome to bring medical records and lab results with you during your visit with the physician. While we do not provide specific medical recommendations, we will work with you to identify the highest yield questions for you to bring back to your physician and can explain basic lab tests, medications, and disease pathologies. You will also have the option to schedule additional face-to-face time with our physicians, if desired, should you have more questions or concerns after your first consultation.
I am concerned about a specific disease that runs in the family. Can iGene108 offer a workshop on the genetics of that disease?
Absolutely! We are here to provide education about the health issues that you care about. When you sign up for iGene108, you will be asked if there are specific topics or diseases about which you would like to learn. Our staff scientists and physicians will provide the most up-to-date information about these diseases, including cutting-edge research in the field.
Do you analyze cancer DNA?
Not at this time. Since we are not a medical practice, we don't perform tumor biopsies.
I just read about this particular gene that was recently found to play a role in a disease about which I am concerned, but I have already finished my one-on-one consultations. Can you still tell me about my DNA for this gene?
Of course! Once you are a client of iGene108, we will continue to serve your genetic and educational needs. We are happy to perform this analysis, and you can schedule additional one-on-one consultation sessions with us even after you finish your "Exome Gold" plan time. Please contact us for our current rates.
I just had another blood test with my primary care doctor, but I have already finished my one-on-one consultations. Can you still go through the results with me?
Yes, we are happy to schedule additional consultation time with our physicians. We can explain the basics of your disease, medications, or lab results with you so that you can be prepared and identify the most high yield questions to bring to your physician. Please contact us for our current rates.
Where is iGene108 located?
At this time, iGene108 is based in Chicago, Illinois. We are happy to discuss alternative meeting locations.
Is there an age limit for getting my genes sequenced?
No, but you must be over the age of 18 to consent to have your own DNA sequenced. If you (or your child) are under the age of 18, you must be accompanied by your legal guardian who will need to sign a waiver onsite.
Can you sequence my pet's genes?
No. We currently only offer this service for humans.
How much do you charge for storing my DNA sequence data and additional consultation time?
Please contact us for our current rates.
Where can I find your policies and licensing information?
Most of our bioinformatic pipelines are custom-designed and not available for distribution. Our primary mission is education, and we utilize academic licenses for additional computational materials when appropriate. Please contact us for our current policies.
How can I contact iGene108?
You can send us a message through the Contact Us form on our website. We are happy to answer any questions and provide further information.
Having worked in both community and academic medical centers during medical school and graduate school, the founding sisters realized how medicine can, all too often, leave patients baffled and burdened by new medications, medical jargon, a flurry of lab values, and more questions than answers. We believe that personalized genetics has the power to unravel some of nature's biggest mysteries. Combined with education, a personalized understanding of disease can empower individuals to take charge of their own health in a way that is profound and life-changing.
iGene108 is delighted to offer the one-on-one medical education that is too often brushed over by busy medical professionals, pressed for time. With over one hundred minutes of dedicated one-on-one time and hours of in-person workshops with our knowledgeable scientists and clinicians, iGene108 offers personalized instruction and education on the topics that matter most to you.
Do you follow the latest scientific breakthroughs? Want to learn more about exciting discoveries you hear on the news? Bring your concerns and curiosities. Tell us what new discoveries or diseases matter most to you. Bring us your lab values and medication lists. We want to explain. We would love to help.