Our Science

We review all products offered in the Helix Store to ensure they are safe, accurate, and transparent. Each product undergoes a rigorous review process before becoming available to customers.

All saliva samples are sequenced in our CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited laboratory in San Diego, California.

How We Evaluate Our Products

We make your safety our priority.

We believe it should be easy for everyone to access their DNA information, but our first consideration is safety. DNA information should always be presented clearly and responsibly. For health-related products, our partners to provide a physician review of the order and more resources such as genetic counseling. Additionally, we believe products that aren’t related to medical outcomes should not provide medical information.

We review each and every scientific claim.

We evaluate the scientific content and claims of each product. This means we review the primary literature on which the associations are based. We ask our partners to remove claims that do not pass our scientific evidence evaluation process.

We test products for accuracy and reliability.

We test products by using sets of deidentified positive and negative controls including different sets of variants and replicates of individuals and families. This process helps ensure products return the expected results for every person.

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Meet some of our scientific staff.

When it comes to Helix’s science, our processes are only part of the story. Our diverse team of experts provide the thoughtfulness and precision that go into our high standard of service.

The Helix Laboratory

Helix’s state-of-the-art DNA sequencing laboratory in San Diego, California 
is one of the most advanced DNA processing facilities in the world. 
Our lab employees developed procedures which have met the highest standards for accuracy and reliability according to federal regulatory standards.

CLIA Certified
#05D2117342

Helix's CLIA certification means that our lab meets certain quality standards under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) of 1988, including qualifications for the individuals who perform the lab processes and other standards that ensure the accuracy and reliability of results.

CAP Accredited
#9382893

Helix's accreditation from the College of American Pathologists (CAP) means that our lab meets the most scientifically rigorous requirements. It ensures that we are compliant with the most comprehensive standards and accuracy of lab results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Many genetic testing services offer genotyping, but Helix offers sequencing. What's the difference?

Genotyping and sequencing are two methods of reading DNA. Your genome consists of three billion base pairs, each of which is represented by one letter.

What is genotyping?

Genotyping is an older technology that takes a snapshot of only specific single letters. These single letters are predefined based on common typos in the genome. If you imagine that your DNA is like a book, there might be a common typo on page 12, sentence 17, letter 4, and genotyping would look there only. Because of this, genotyping is static.

If you decide you want to look at another location in the DNA, you have to run another experiment. In addition, genotyping can only resolve single-letter typos, and does not see any errors in words or sentences. Common genotyping technologies read approximately 750,000 single letters—a small fraction of the 3 billion total letters in the genome.

What is sequencing?

In contrast, by sequencing, we read base pairs in order (like reading an entire sentence, paragraph, or chapter). By comparing your letters to a reference genome, we can determine which letters are different. The places you are different are called “variations,” and this is what makes you unique.

Variation can be typos in single letters, or can be differences in entire words, sentences, paragraphs, or even pages. With sequencing, you are capturing all the words on all the pages and can flip through and find what you are looking for, even if you didn’t know what you wanted when you started. 
 Sequencing can also read hundreds of times more data than is possible in genotyping. For example, Helix’s Exome+ technology reads approximately 50,000,000 letters, including every letter of every protein-coding gene. Because of this, sequencing is more comprehensive than genotyping and is generally the highest standard for DNA applications.

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How accurate is sequencing?

We work closely with Illumina, the market leader in Next Generation Sequencing technologies. Next Generation Sequencing is typically 99.5% accurate at each location of the DNA. In the rare case that we are unable to read small portions of your DNA, we will mark it as “unreadable” rather than guessing.

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Can I access my sequenced DNA data?

Yes. Once you've been sequenced, you can download your Exome+ genetic information for a fee by visiting your Account Settings.

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