The at-home DNA testing business is booming, with many customers flocking to companies like 23andMe and Ancestry to send in their saliva samples and await results. MyHeritage DNA is making a name for itself in this competitive market by now offering the most comprehensive test results in the industry, tracing DNA to 42 different ethnic regions, more than any other service. This means they can provide customers with more specific information about their ancestry than any other service.
MyHeritage conducted a project to gather information from more than 5,000 participants, handpicked by MyHeritage researchers from its customer database of 90 million. The researchers chose customers who “exemplified consistent ancestry from the same region or ethnicity across many generations,” according to a statement the company released, so that DNA for more specific regions could be identified.
Currently, at-home DNA kits can only identify a limited number of regions for customer test results. For instance, a “Northern European” identification aggregates people who descended from a variety of regions in Western Europe. Test results identifying DNA from “Native American” and “East Asian” regions are rather broad, too. While customers have definitely benefited from knowing their DNA and ethnic make-up, many have been craving a little more detail. They want to know more specific regions where their ancestors might have lived for a more complete genetic picture. Thanks to this project, MyHeritage DNA became the only at-home mass market DNA testing service to provide percentage-based DNA results that reveal a wider arrange of ethnicities, including Balkan, Baltic, Eskimo & Inuit; Japanese; Kenyan; Sierra Leonean; Somali; four major Jewish groups - Ethiopian, Yemenite, Sephardic from North Africa and Mizrahi from Iran and Iraq; Indigenous Amazonian; Papuan and many others.
In some cases, competing products like Ancestry and 23andMe can identify and report an aggregated region (e.g., Italian & Greek), compared to MyHeritage, which can identify Greek, Italian and Sardinian ethnicities separately. Yaniv Erlich, MyHeritage’s Chief Science Officer said in a statement, “We have detailed plans to increase accuracy, extend our Founder Populations project further, and improve the resolution for ethnicities of great interest to our users from highly diverse origins.”
In addition to providing a more comprehensive analysis, the company also announced that customers who used other DNA testing services can forward their test results to MyHeritage and get a more robust report for free. So we’ll see if customers take the company up on their offer. It will add to their own database, which would mean more opportunity for MyHeritage DNA to develop more specific testing results.