Monday, 7 November 2016

MyHeritage launches a DNA testing service


My Heritage have announced the launch of MyHeritage DNA, which they describe as their "new global integrated genetic testing service".

The test will provide admixture reports and a DNA matching service for finding relatives. Additional features are planned for the future.

The test is a simple cheek swab which is mailed back to the MyHeritage DNA lab. I haven't yet been able to find any technical details of the chip used or which lab MyHeritage are using. Family Tree DNA kits are no longer being offered for sale on the MyHeritage website so this appears to be a brand new test. I've written to the company and will provide further information if it becomes available.

Update 9th November: MyHeritage have written a blog post which answers many of the questions we have had about the new test: MyHeritage DNA Your Questions Answered. It has been confirmed that they are using the Gene by Gene lab in Houston, Texas (Gene by Gene are the parent company of Family Tree DNA). There is a video on this blog post showing how the kits are processed.

The company have kindly provided me with the following photo of the MyHeritage kit.

The MyHeritage DNA test appears to be available in most countries of the world though according to the Terms and Conditions "The DNA services are currently not available to residents of the following locations: Israel, France, Poland and the State of Alaska".

The following information has been provided by Dan Horowitz, MyHeritage's genealogy expert:

"The initial reports currently include 25 ethnicities, but this will improve dramatically thanks to MyHeritage’s unique Founder Population project unveiled today — the largest of its kind ever conducted. More than 5000 participants have been handpicked for this project by MyHeritage from its 85 million members, by virtue of their family trees exemplifying consistent ancestry from the same region or ethnicity for many generations. In the next few months, the project will be completed, resulting in a rich DNA data set of more than 100 ethnicities that will enable MyHeritage to show users their ancestral roots with far greater resolution than other services. To this end, the company has been sending its DNA kits to project participants far and wide, from Uzbekistan to Fiji, from Greenland to South Africa, and every corner of the globe. Standard ethnicity reports are currently available, with the expert reports to be released at no additional cost to users following the completion of the Founder Population project. 

MyHeritage DNA is seamlessly integrated with the other services provided by MyHeritage on all web and mobile platforms, as well as offered on a dedicated standalone mobile app released today named MyHeritage DNA.

MyHeritage DNA kits are available at the affordable introductory price of $79 + shipping (prices vary by location). MyHeritage has already amassed a significant number of DNA kits uploaded by its users from other DNA services, providing valuable matches on MyHeritage from day one. Users who have already tested their DNA on other services are welcome for a limited time to upload their DNA data to MyHeritage at no cost to benefit from free DNA Matches."

On checking the new website at https://www.myheritagedna.com I'm directed to a UK page which shows that the introductory UK price is £79 (reduced from £99). There is an additional charge of £10 for postage. There are prices also shown in Euros. The European price is €79 (reduced from €99) with an additional charge of  €10 for postage. The prices are therefore the same in sterling and Euros as the prices in US dollars despite the fact that the dollar is not at parity with the pound or with the Euro. The website indicates that they will begin shipping kits in mid-November.

Here is a sample admixture report provided by the company.

Here are some sample screenshots showing the matching service which again have been provided the company.



I have already taken advantage of the free transfer to upload my raw data from Family Tree DNA to MyHeritage. At the moment I have just six matches, all of which are in the USA. I hope that the availability of the new MyHeritage DNA test will bring in many new testers, and I look forward to receiving new matches in the future.

Judy Russell has written some useful articles on the Legal Genealogist blog about the terms and conditions of the MyHeritage DNA service and their relationship with Geni.com. I recommend reading all these articles:
There are further details about the test on the MyHeritage blog including a link to a video showing a picture of the MyHeritage DNA lab though I can't currently get the video to play.

CeCe Moore reports that 'a chromosome browser will be coming in future updates and that the testing chip is "industry standard"'.

Update 9th November
I originally posted that I was unable to contact any of my matches without having a MyHeritage subscription. I was contacted by the CEO of MyHeritage who advised me that there was a bug affecting users who uploaded DNA data on the day on which I uploaded my data in October. This bug has now been fixed and I am able to contact matches so I have removed this section of my post.

Here is the official press release received from MyHeritage.
MyHeritage Launches Global DNA Testing Service for Uncovering Ethnic Origins and Making New Family Connections 
Unique Founder Population project conducted by the company expected to empower the highest resolution ethnicity analysis available on the market
TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah, November 7, 2016 — MyHeritage, the leading international destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history, announced today the launch of MyHeritage DNA, its global integrated genetic testing service. The move represents a major turning point for the DNA industry, as MyHeritage DNA debuts an international mass-market home-testing kit that is simple, affordable and will offer some of the best ethnicity reports in the world.
With 85 million users worldwide, 2.1 billion family tree profiles, 7 billion historical records and availability in 42 languages, MyHeritage’s new DNA service further strengthens its position as a global leader in family history.

DNA is the hereditary material in the cells of the human body and it carries within it a unique genetic record. The MyHeritage DNA kit enables users to test their DNA to reveal valuable information about their family history and ethnic origins. The kit consists of a simple cheek swab and takes only a minute to complete, with no need for blood or saliva. The sample is then mailed to MyHeritage DNA’s lab for analysis and the user is invited to view the results on the MyHeritage website. In its initial version, MyHeritage DNA provides two main features: detailed ethnicity reports that map the user’s ethnic and geographic origins, and DNA Matches for finding relatives. Additional features and capabilities are planned for the future. 
MyHeritage DNA results include fascinating ethnicity reports, showing the percentage of the user's DNA that come from different populations around the world. The initial reports currently include 25 ethnicities, but this will improve dramatically thanks to MyHeritage’s unique Founder Population project unveiled today — the largest of its kind ever conducted. More than 5000 participants have been handpicked for this project by MyHeritage from its 85 million members, by virtue of their family trees exemplifying consistent ancestry from the same region or ethnicity for many generations. In the next few months, the project will be completed, resulting in a rich DNA data set of more than 100 ethnicities that will enable MyHeritage to show users their ancestral roots with far greater resolution than other services. To this end, the company has been sending its DNA kits to project participants far and wide, from Uzbekistan to Fiji, from Greenland to South Africa, and every corner of the globe. Standard ethnicity reports are currently available, with the expert reports to be released at no additional cost to users following the completion of the Founder Population project.

DNA test results complement MyHeritage’s core offerings, including family trees and historical records — the tools traditionally used by family history enthusiasts. DNA can be used to prove or disprove a documented family tree connection, or answer the question of whether two people sharing the same rare surname are actually related. DNA is also indispensable for overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles in traditional research, as in the case of adoptees searching for their biological family without access to their adoption records. On the other hand, when DNA locates a match between two people who have the same ancestor or ancestors, family trees and historical records are often essential for piecing together the exact relationship path between them.
Thanks to its expertise in family trees and its vibrant community, MyHeritage provides its DNA customers with features not offered by most competing services including 23andMe, such as viewing family trees of the majority of their DNA Matches to pinpoint the connection path, and automatically identifying which surnames and geographical locations they have in common. DNA can be a fascinating introduction to the world of family history, and customers who embark on this journey by taking a DNA test can easily use MyHeritage's tools to further explore what made them what they are. 
“DNA testing is the future of family history,” said MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet. “We see DNA as a natural evolution of our business and look forward to harnessing it to reunite families, engage in new pro bono projects, and enrich the lives of millions of users.” 
MyHeritage DNA kits are available at the affordable introductory price of $79 + shipping (prices vary by location). To order, visit the MyHeritage DNA website. MyHeritage has already amassed a significant number of DNA kits uploaded by its users from other DNA services, providing valuable matches on MyHeritage from day one. With the launch of MyHeritage DNA, the company will cease to offer DNA kits of other vendors. Users who have already tested their DNA on other services are welcome for a limited time to upload their DNA data to MyHeritage at no cost to benefit from free DNA Matches.

About MyHeritage
MyHeritage is the leading global destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history. As technology thought leaders, MyHeritage is transforming family history into an activity that’s accessible and instantly rewarding. Its global user community enjoys access to a massive library of historical records, the most internationally diverse collection of family trees and ground­breaking search and matching technologies. An extension of the core MyHeritage brand, MyHeritage DNA offers technologically-advanced, affordable DNA tests that reveal users’ ethnic origins and previously unknown relatives. Trusted by millions of families, MyHeritage provides an easy way to share family stories, past and present, and treasure them for generations to come. MyHeritage and MyHeritage DNA are available in 42 languages. www.myheritage.com

4 comments:

Seaton Smithy said...

Do you think the MyHeritage DNA test is simply FTDNA Family Finder re-badged?

Debbie Kennett said...

I did wonder if they were getting FTDNA to do the testing but marketing the test under their own brand name. The British company DNA Worldwide (the company behind the new Living DNA test) used to have a custom chip from FTDNA which was effectively the Family Finder test with SNPs added for Y-DNA and mtDNA so there is a precedent.

FTDNA are holding their Group Administrators' Conference this weekend so perhaps there will be news then.

Mary Kathryn Kozy said...

I find this fascinating, as I was speaking in British Columbia a few weeks back and an older woman of English origin (only English, NOT British - I was corrected! :)) mentioned that MyHeritage had sent her a test. I suspect after reading this and CeCe's post that she is going to be part of that reference population. I'm interested to see how this all works out. One more change I need to make to my autosomal DNA lecture! :)

Debbie Kennett said...

It will indeed be interesting to see how this all works out. It's difficult trying to keep up with all these new developments!