Helix DNA Reviews: Are the tests worth the money?

Last Updated: November 01, 2018

Helix DNA Reviews

Helix DNA brings an entirely new and innovative perspective to the personal DNA testing marketplace. Rather than submitting your DNA to the company for direct analysis, Helix instead securely stores your genetic information in great detail, and acts as a platform for you to purchase a variety of ‘gene-powered’ analysis products supplied by partner companies. When you select and buy a particular DNA testing product advertised on the website, only those areas of your genome that are required to generate the results for that test are shared with the supplier. Helix DNA currently offers tests in the following categories: Ancestry, Health, Wellness, and Entertainment.

Review Summary

Pros

  • Helix collects around 100 times more genomic data than the other big test providers, analyzing approximately 22,000 genes.
  • Helix features a wide variety of products, including those related to health, ancestry, fitness, and nutrition, and more.
  • You only need to submit your DNA sample once to gain access to a variety of different products, saving time and money.

Cons

  • Some of the fitness and nutrition tests provide recommendations based on tenuous scientific evidence, which are interesting, but should be taken with a grain of salt.
  • Some of the products are slightly more expensive than competing test.
  • You cannot download your raw genome sequencing data. This may not really be much of a disadvantage, as there is very little the amateur genealogist can do with this data anyway.

Bottom Line

The Helix model of DNA testing is based on an interesting and novel idea that has many obvious benefits, which will get better with time. We love how you only have to take one DNA test. Like many competing tests involving diet and fitness, however, some of the recommendations should not be taken too seriously (always check with your doctor!).

Helix Rating by

4 stars (out of five)

Reviewed on

Pricing and Options

The basic DNA starter kit that provides Helix with a sample of your saliva retails for $80, which does not include shipping and handling (an additional $9.95). This is a one-time purchase; once your DNA has been collected and stored, you gain access to all of the additional products sold via the Helix platform without having to submit another sample. However, the Helix DNA kit must be purchased together with one other DNA analysis product of your choosing.

There are multiple deals that reduce the price of the Helix DNA kit. For example, their suggested starter pack consists of the Helix DNA kit plus the DNAPassport by HumanCode, retailing for $49.99. The prices of the ‘gene-powered’ products advertised via the Helix website vary hugely depending on the type of test and the supplier, from around $29.99 all the way up to $249.99.

Submitting your DNA

Helix’s DNA submission process is easy, quick, and painless. Once you place your order, the Helix DNA kit will arrive in the post in 5-9 business days, although quicker delivery options are available for a higher postage fee. When the kit arrives, you simply register the kit on the company website, follow the instructions provided to supply a small saliva sample, and return the kit to Helix using a pre-paid shipping box that will be included in your package. Helix will then sequence your DNA and provide whatever data is necessary to the supplier of your first DNA analysis product for testing. You will receive an email when your results are ready to be viewed.

Reports and Features

1

Ancestry

There are only a small number of products featured on the Helix website relating to genetic ancestry. The most comprehensive of these is the Geno 2.0 test by National Geographic, which includes information regarding your ethnic origins, maternal and paternal haplogroups, and even famous historical figures you may be distantly related to. Another fairly unique product named Neanderthal by Insitome promises to provide you with information about your neanderthal and denisovan ancestry. However, none of the products on sale provide you with reports that are as detailed and accurate as those offered by bigger sites like Family Tree DNA or 23andMe, and some features such as the genetic community are missing.

2

Health

The Helix platform offers only two health-related DNA analysis products, and both are highly specific–one covers inherited diabetes, and the other, inherited cholesterol. Helix also advertises a product named CarrierCheck™ by Sema4 under its ‘Family’ category; this product generates reports detailing your carrier status for variants linked to 67 autosomal recessive conditions. All of these tests are fairly expensive and include the involvement of an online physician to review your medical information (although this does not cost extra). It is interesting to note that one of Helix’s investors is the Mayo Clinic, which may hint that more health-related products are on the horizon! But for now, if you’re looking for a comprehensive service featuring a number of FDA-approved reports, 23andMe is the place to go.

3

Entertainment, Fitness and Nutrition

Most of the products on sale on the Helix platform fall under one of these three categories. While the results of these types of test may be interesting and entertaining, the consensus among experts is they should not be considered scientifically valid. Considering the prices of these products, think carefully before you buy!

Other Considerations

Privacy

The security status of genetic data shared with Helix is difficult to evaluate, as it’s necessary for Helix to share some of your information with third party product suppliers. When you select a product advertised on the website, only the specific sections of genetic data that are necessary for that particular test will be shared with the supplier. Helix say they expect all product suppliers that they partner with to meet the same high security standards that they themselves uphold, but that you are encouraged to check a partner companies’ privacy policy before you purchase their products. At any time you are able to contact the supplier of a product you have bought to discontinue service and remove access to your information. The Helix systems themselves are designed so that genetic data and personal information are stored separately, and they encrypt this information. A breakdown of the Helix privacy policy highlights is available on their website.

Data Exportability

Currently you cannot download your raw gene sequencing data from Helix. The ability to download this data is usually a plus because it can be uploaded to other databases or service providers to gain greater insights into your genetic health or history. However in the case of Helix, the resolution of the sequencing data is much higher than that offered by other testing companies so far and is not compatible with most consumer analysis programs, so there isn’t much that the amateur genealogist can do with such a large amount of data. This may not be the case in the future, and so the lack of a download option may be something you want to consider.

Helix vs the Competition

Helix is fairly unique at the moment, and so there aren’t many similarly structured services to compare it to. It provides a very different type of genetic testing platform to those offered by bigger sites like 23andMe, Ancestry, or Family Tree DNA, and at present is aimed towards a different consumer. If you’re looking for serious genealogical, carrier-status, or health-related information, we recommend that you look elsewhere, as Helix does not yet feature any products that realistically compare to the bigger, more well known companies in terms of scope and accuracy. However, this may well change as the popularity of the platform grows and as the list of Helix’s partner companies gets longer. For now, the available offerings are mostly expensive lifestyle, nutrition and fitness-related products that can provide you with little in the way of definitive scientific information.

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