iGene was established in 2012 as a result of a collaboration between scientists and technicians from various disciplines, with the ambition of providing the best genetic self-test anywhere in the world.
We believe that everyone has the right to find out, completely anonymously, about the latest scientific developments linked to their own health and how they can take the initiative to improve their health. Our mission is to help people live a happier life by taking advantage of DNA science.
iGene is an independent party that manages your data anonymously and gives you personal control over your own DNA profile. The iGene DNA tests are now becoming available in an increasing number of European countries.
Our multidisciplinary approach
What is unusual about iGene is that we do not restrict ourselves to technical DNA analysis alone. In addition to knowledge from the field of genetics, we also draw on knowledge from medical science and insights obtained from psychology.
This broad scientific basis means that we are not only able to analyse genetic data, but can also interpret it extremely accurately and present it in an effective way.
Thanks to science it is becoming ever easier to use your DNA to determine the hereditary conditions to which you are predisposed. The conditions you receive information on are selected on the basis of three criteria:
- There is a scientific consensus that the genetic factor plays a role
- The conditions in question have a significant impact on happiness
- Knowledge of them can also help you live a happier life
We are finding out more and more about ways to reduce the risk of developing various conditions. By linking this information to your DNA profile, we can provide targeted information relating to your lifestyle, diet and sensitivity to drugs.
The information in your iGene Passport is updated on an ongoing basis with the help of the latest scientific insights. That means that as soon as new knowledge becomes available, you can benefit from it straight away.
A great deal of research has been conducted into how people use knowledge to adapt their behaviour or lifestyle. We use these insights from the field of psychology to decide how to present and dose information.
That means we don’t provide any well-intended advice if we know it will simply be ignored. We only provide information that is relevant to your happiness and that you will actually be keen to put to use.
Our ethical code
When the first pregnancy tests became available there were widespread calls to prevent women from performing these tests themselves.
People have concerns about any new technology. The same goes for developments in the field of DNA science. The three main ethical questions linked to DNA analysis concern:
- High reliability of the results.
- Conditions that cannot be prevented or cured.
- How anonymity can be guaranteed.
To ensure that everyone can see how we deal with these issues at iGene, we have drawn up an ethical code. This code serves as a guide for our actions and a reference if dilemmas arise.
1. The reliability of the results
All the information we provide via the iGene Passport has been thoroughly screened, checked and tested against our scientific analysis model in advance. To guarantee the reliability of the results, we employ strict validation criteria.
2. Conditions that cannot be prevented or cured
iGene does not provide any information about conditions that cannot (yet) be prevented or cured.
3. How anonymity can be guaranteed
iGene never passes on the personal data of clients to third parties. To guarantee the privacy of our clients, we process payment data and account data using two separate systems on two different servers. After we have processed a new DNA sample we remove the personal data of the client concerned from his or her account. Responses to any online client surveys are also always processed anonymously. If we share the results of these kinds of surveys with third parties, we only do so in aggregated form. The same applies to the sharing of other data with third parties: this is only shared in aggregated and completely anonymised form.
iGene’s general position regarding DNA analysis
We believe that everyone has the right to find out, completely anonymously, about the latest scientific developments linked to their own health and how they can take the initiative to improve their health.
DNA analysis is still the subject of much discussion within society. If new insights or developments give us cause to do so, we will refine our ethical code further.
Scientific process used to obtain the data
All the information in your iGene Passport has been thoroughly screened, checked and tested against a scientific analysis model in advance. Below we provide a brief description of how this information is obtained.
Selection of conditions
The initial selection is made on the basis of two criteria:
- Scientifically proven genetic link
- Scientifically proven preventive measures
To determine whether there is a link between a certain condition and a certain SNP*, we refer to research from the field of DNA science. A three-step validation model is employed:
1. Has scientific research demonstrated a strong or very strong link?
The answer can be found in the MEDLINE database, which contains more than 20 million references to scientific publications. We consult this database with the help of PubMed, the search engine of the United States National Library of Medicine.
2. Has the relationship been demonstrated by several researchers and is there no contradiction between studies?
Here we make use of meta-analyses, amongst other things; these are systematic studies that combine the results of previously performed scientific research. Case-control studies and expert reviews are also included in the database. In many cases these experts are working together as a consortium, e.g. the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC). All results of the studies are entered into a specially developed database. Only if the results for SNPs are significant and relevant and provide a consistent picture do we use the information for your iGene Passport.
3. Are the studies still up to date and relevant?
To ensure this is the case, we constantly monitor the most recent literature. We update our database with information from new studies on an ongoing basis. This may mean adding new SNPs to the selection or removing certain SNPs. In this way your iGene Passport will always be kept up to date with the most relevant information.
*Our statement on genetic links is based on so-called SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) – certain variations in your DNA. A number of these SNPs are known to be associated with an increased or reduced risk of developing a specific condition.
We derive general information on prevention from the current prevention guidelines made available by government authorities, knowledge institutions and health organisations. In this way we ensure that the information about public health that we are using is independent and scientifically substantiated. We supplement this general information with more specific information based on recent research.
All the prevention advice that is relevant for you is combined in your iGene Passport in the form of personalised lifestyle advice based on your DNA profile. For each condition you can also see which advice can help in preventing this condition.
Pharmacogenetics is the scientific field within which research is carried out into variations in DNA that can influence a person’s individual reaction to certain drugs. Drugs are broken down in the body by enzymes and these enzymes may be more or less active, depending on your DNA. The pharmacogenetic information in your iGene Passport is based on published research results from leading research institutes in this field.
Presentation of information
The presentation of the information in the iGene Passport is based in part on the following criteria:
- Impact factor of condition (how great is the impact on happiness?)
- Lifetime risk (how great is the risk that you will develop a condition during your lifetime, given your age, gender and ethnicity?)
- Effectiveness of lifestyle advice
- Scope of lifestyle advice (extent to which it relates to several conditions)
- Evidence-based nature of lifestyle advice
- Impact factor of lifestyle advice
To determine the impact factor, we refer to data from the World Health Organisation (WHO). With regard to incidence we take information from national research institutes and patient associations as a basis.