Insitome’s Fun Neanderthal and Metabolism Apps

Insitome, pronounced In-sight-ome, as described here, a startup by Spencer Wells, former Director of The Genographic Project, is offering two (and soon more) apps that I found quite interesting.

Insitome partners with Helix, so you’re really working with two different companies, but it’s relatively transparent to the consumer.  Helix sequences your exome for a one time cost that is significantly under market price.

This article explains the relationship between Helix and Insitome.  If you google the title of the article, shown in the link below, you can then see the article behind the paywall for free. Yes, I’m quoted in the article, along with Spencer Wells, of course.

https://www.genomeweb.com/sequencing/insitome-launches-first-app-helix-questions-remain-about-impact-ancestry-test-providers

However, with Helix, you CANNOT obtain your raw Exome data to download and use as you wish.  The reason that Exome sequencing is offered by Helix at an artificially low price ($80 versus about $500) is that Helix provides a new marketplace model where Helix and their various partners are hoping to recoup Helix’s Exome processing investment when you purchase multiple application products from their partners – kind of like the Apple app store.

Hence, the Insitome motto “One and never done.”

This marketplace model means that you sequence your Exome once through Helix, and then purchase applications from partner developers like Insitome who utilize your Exome sequence to provide you with an array of results. You don’t purchase the Exome sequencing separately, it’s generally included with your first app purchase, and then future app purchases are simply add-ons.

By way of example, let’s just say that all apps cost $50. (They actually range widely from lower to higher.)  Your first app would cost $50 plus $80 for the Exome test for a total of $130.  Your second and all future apps would only cost $50.

I do have some thoughts to share on the Helix model, which I will do in a future article, but for now, I just want to share with you my Neanderthal and Metabolism results that I purchased through Insitome.

These were a lot of fun!

Neanderthal

As a history buff, I have always been very interested in Neanderthals – an interest which was multiplied exponentially when it was discovered that Neanderthals didn’t die out, just another dead branch on the human tree. Instead, Neanderthals assimilated into the European and Asian populations, along with their cousins, the Denisovans to become part of who we are today, assuming you have any European or Asian heritage.

I wrote about the Neanderthal discovery and what it means to us in the following articles:

Insitome Insights

Insitome’s platform is called Insights and is focused on providing you, the consumer, with insights into yourself.

Today, you can purchase two apps, the Neanderthal and Metabolism apps, and as you can see, there are more apps in the development stages. That’s the blurred out block.  I strained to see, but no luck!

Let’s see what the two apps available today tell me about myself.

I’m always looking for more insight, pardon that pun😊

Neanderthal

I was excited to see what Insitome had to say about my Neanderthal heritage.  Let that sink in for a minute.

Neanderthal HERITAGE.

Yes, in me.  I’ll never know their names, but pieces of those ancestors from tens of thoursands of years ago remain inside of me today – running in my veins! Enough to be recognizable when compared to the genomes recovered from Neanderthal and Denisovan bones.

When I was tested several years ago by the Genographic project, I received an initial Neanderthal percentage breakdown, but now, I’m going to be able to identify which of my traits are thanks to my Neanderthal ancestors.

Drum roll….

So, I carry 1.1% Neanderthal DNA. That’s less than I thought.

It’s absolutely imperative that you click on the “Begin Story” blue link just below your percentages.  In fact, this may just be the very best part of this app.  I would expect no less from Spencer Wells.

Your story is also interactive so in the section where the story discusses the adaptations for hair and skin color (pigmentation), and why they occurred, you can click to see your own result at the proper place.

It’s interesting that my Neanderthal results are smaller with Insitome than they were with the Genographic Project where I’m reported to be .8% Neanderthal and 1.4% Denisovan for a combined total of 2.2%.

Insitome refers to Denisovans as Eastern Neanderthal, so their 1.1% combines the Neanderthal and Denisovan.

What the Genographic Project does not provide is the breakdown of which of my traits are Neanderthal and which are Modern Human.

Insitome does.

And here’s the detail to be discovered by clicking on the trait itself, in this case, “Learning.”

I can then view my full history.

Interesting, there are 14 genes in total that comprise this cluster which I inherited from my Neanderthal forbearers.

Sure enough, further research shows that TANC1 is reported to be the center of visual learning. Isn’t it ironic that the Neanderthals were stereotyped to be lumbering, almost “pre-human,” unintelligent and their language was assumed to be a series of grunts with no perceptible words. We’re now learning more about our ancestors and they don’t seem to be nearly as primitive as first supposed.

Next, let’s look at Pathogen Recognition.

Again, clicking on “Read More” displays the full history which is just fascinating.

It’s interesting to think that my Neanderthal immune receptors for pathogen recognition may be the only reason I’m here today.  It makes me wonder how many times that this Neanderthal remnant saved the day, and no one ever knew, until now!

Metabolism

The second Insitome app that I purchased is Metabolism.

I need to tell you, up front, the same thing I told Spencer Wells. I’m extremely apprehensive about metabolism applications and claims made regarding metabolism and nutrition, especially those made by someone with something to sell you afterwards – like supplements.

Spencer told me that the Insitome app is nothing like that, so I purchased it to see.  He was right – the Insitome app tells me which of 8 metabolism traits I inherited from either the Hunter-Gatherer or the Farmer group of people.

In the history of humans, hunter-gatherers preceded farmers.  Farming began in the Fertile Crescent about 10,000 years ago and then slowly worked its way to Europe. Both of these groups had specific metabolic traits that their descendants carry today.

As with the Neanderthal app, please click on “Begin Story” for the fascinating history behind the information.

Did you know that your brain utilizes roughly 25% of your daily calorie intake?  Neither did I!

And beer, beer is a part of my heritage.

I knew it!

Well, let’s just say that explains a lot.

Look, both Alcohol Flush and Alcohol Tolerance are traits that one inherits from either their Hunter-Gatherer ancestors or their Farmer ancestors.

I carry the Hunter-Gatherer version of both alcohol related traits – meaning the more ancient versions.

This means I get sick more slowly from drinking too much alcohol.

Um, is that a good thing or a bad thing? I’m not sure.

Summary

You can see for yourself which of the following traits are inherited from your Neanderthal ancestors:

  • Pigmentation
  • Sun Damage Repair
  • Torso Shape
  • Learning
  • Fat Storage
  • High Altitude Adaptation
  • Interpreting Immune Signals
  • Pathogen Recognition
  • Viral Immune Response
  • Muscle Growth and Development

Which ones do you think you have that are Neanderthal?

As far as Metabolism is concerned, you will learn which of the following traits are the older Hunter-Gatherer or the younger Farmer.

  • Alcohol Flush
  • Alcohol Tolerance
  • Caffeine Metabolism
  • Calcium Absorption
  • Fat Synthesis
  • Glucose Tolerance
  • Vitamin D Absorption

If you’re going to order these tests, play a little game and write down which traits will be Neanderthal versus Modern Human and Hunter-Gatherer versus Farmer versions.

Then, order your kit or kits below and see if you were right.

  • Insitome’s Metabolism including Helix processing at $119.99 or $39.99 if you’ve already had Helix sequence your DNA.  However, right now, the Cyber Sale is in effect until November 27th and Helix processing is free, meaning the entire price for this app is only $39.99 and shipping is free too.
  • Insitome’s Neanderthal including Helix processing for $199.99 or $29.99 if you’ve already had Helix sequence your DNA.  The Cyber sale means that the total cost for this app is only $29.99 which includes Helix processing and shipping.

To get the Cyber Sale prices for these apps, just click on the blue links above and then on the “Order” button, and your promo code is automatically applied, adjusting the price accordingly.

Hmmm, I’m wondering if my kids and grandkids would like this for Christmas! Education disguised as fun. Maybe the adults could test the alcohol flush reaction as part of our own family scientific study.

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Helix Sale

Helix is a startup company (funded in part by the DNA testing juggernaut, Illumina) that is offering a marketplace approach to DNA testing.

This means you pay for the initial Exome sequencing through Helix, then you pay for apps from companies that develop applications, much like the app stores.

I will be reporting on my Neanderthal and Metabolism results soon, but Helix has launched a 2 day sale (ending November 9th) that is the best Exome pricing I’ve ever seen anyplace – and If you are interested, I don’t want you to miss the opportunity.

However, and this is a big however, you do NOT receive your raw data results, so you can’t download and use those results for genealogy or health outside of applications available for purchase through Helix affiliates.

If you are interested in testing for other types of information offered through Helix affiliate company applications, you may be interested in this sale.

Here’s how the Helix marketplace works:

You purchase an application and bundled into that price is both the Helix exome sequencing and the app itself.

On the Helix site, click on the various icons under the “shop” tab to see the regular and sale pricing.

At this point, the only three tests that I have confidence in are the Neanderthal and Metabolism apps by Insitome (a startup by Spencer Wells, former Director of the Genographic Project and Scientist in Residence), the Genographic Project app, and potentially the Health category apps, although I have not personally evaluated the Health apps.

In other cases, I’m downright skeptical of the value of some of these apps, but I’ll let you be the judge.

App categories, other than the ones I mentioned above, include:

  • Entertainment
  • Family
  • Fitness
  • Nutrition

Here’s are the sale prices for:

Disclosure

While I am a National Geographic Genographic affiliate researcher, there is no financial remuneration involved, nor is this a paid affiliate link.  This means I have no financial interest whatsoever, in any way, in these products and services – nor do I receive any commission if you purchase any of these products.