Q1. What is Karmagenes genetic test?
Karmagenes genetic test involves examining specific regions of DeoxyriboNucleic Acid (DNA) linked with behavioral characteristics. Karmagenes provides an innovative approach of how people can better know themselves and connect with others in an avant-gardist way. Karmagenes goal is to make the general public understand that DNA, genetic tests and science in general, can also be used in a modern, comprehensible, positive and in a scientific way. By no means Karmagenes genetic testing results should be seen as a final and definite description of your behavioral characteristics. It should be stressed that the results are based on what your DNA is telling regarding these specific behavioral characteristics based on current scientific studies. However, characteristics are also influenced by the environmental factors in your life. While your genetic background will always remain the same and underlies your personality traits, the environmental factors such as your family, your school, your cultural background, your friends and colleagues, your professional experiences, will also contribute to the definition of your behavioral characteristics, your personality and who you are today.
Q2. Who designed the test and how accurate it is?
Our core team includes 5 biologists with a PhD ranging from neuroscience to genetics and molecular biology from accredited Universities such as Karolinska Institute in Sweden, Imperial College in United Kingdom and University of Lausanne in Switzerland. We link specific Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) related to behavioral characteristics and we constantly check for updates. Based on our expertise we give a score of how strong each SNP is linked to each characteristic. Our proprietary algorithm also uses a polygenic approach meaning we link at least 2 different genes and SNPs to each characteristic. Finally, the scores are normalized and you get a final score of Very Low- Low- Moderate- High- Very High. Since environment plays also a big role on shaping our behaviour, our psychologist links the DNA findings with psychological findings based on the Big 5 traits, the most recognized categorization of personality types. We aim to have the highest standards and take into account all existing scientific research in the field; to achieve the best accurate results based on current scientific research. If you search in Pubmed there are more than 30000 scientific publications http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=behavioral+genetics regarding behavioral genetics and about 23'000 papers regarding human behavioral genetics http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=behavioral+genetics+human. Overall, the research span done within this field is more than 50 years.
Q3. Why did we start Karmagenes?
We want to convey genetics to the general public in a comprehensible, positive and modern scientific way. You can have a look at our scientific blog were we explain selected scientific papers from top-notch peer reviewed journals: http://meetyourself.co. We simply aim to promote the positiveness of our DNA. A big majority of people link DNA with diseases, many perceive that mutants are ‘’bad’’ (from movies to daily news) and in general a misconception is that genetic mostly deal with negative aspects. This is not the case; DNA is the blueprint of our life while embracing both negative and positive issues.
Q4. Does Karmagenes genetic test deals with health issues?
No. Karmagenes genetic testing is for informational purposes only. It is not a medical advice and does not substitute professional medical advice, genetic counseling, diagnosis or treatment. The development of the genetic test and performance of the analysis are based on current knowledge of the molecular biology data and it should be noted that results of DNA testing might evolve over time as more information becomes available and technology improves. If you have any question regarding genetics, we would be glad to answer them or have a look at our scientific blog written by our scientific team http://meetyourself.co.
Q5. Scientifically speaking, is it real that DNA affects our behavior? How is that possible?
In an oversimplified explanation on how DNA is linked to behavior:
DNA⇒Genes⇒Different SNPs⇒Different expression of hormones/proteins/enzymes⇒Behavioral characteristics⇒You.
Also, have a look at our scientific blog http://meetyourself.co were we try to explain science and behavioral genetics in a simple way. Regarding the scientific evidence, we have based our test in hundreds of publications as mentioned in Question2. Behavioral genetics for sure need further research, similarly to all genetic tests. Genetic testing is still a forecast and only the future will show how accurate each genetic test designer is. That's one of the main reasons that we do not deal with health related issues. As established scientists within the team, we know the current limitations but we are also qualified to design the best possible test.
Q6. Why we do not reveal specific SNPs and the exact way that we do our analysis?
To be honest with you, it is a competitive market and we are still a young company, thus we have chosen not to reveal our ‘’secret formula’’. When we can legally and globally protect our unique formula we will definitely share more information on how we do it. Keep in mind that DNA cannot be patented.
Q7. Does my DNA sequence remain the same after many years e.g. after 10, 20, 50 years?
Changes in your DNA sequence are very rare to occur. Very limited changes may be caused by harsh exposure to extreme environmental factors or because of big changes in your life style. Still, most likely your DNA sequence remains the same through your life.
Q8. Is it painful to collect DNA for Karmagenes test?
Absolutely not. It is a very easy non-invasive method, a buccal swab with a cotton end that collects epithelial cells from your inner cheeks/mouth (similar movement like brushing your teeth). We send you simple instructions on how to do it yourself. The DNA collected from the saliva of your inner cheeks/mouth is enough to run our analysis.
Q9. Do we deliver our DNA collectors internationally?
Yes. Keep in mind before you place your order to check the regulations of the country that you live in regarding genetic testing. Most countries have no problems for their citizens to do non-health related direct-to-consumer genetic testing.
Q10. What are the procedures to do the test?
You have to be legally capable to do the test. Simply, you place your order online on our website and then we send you the DNA sample collector kit by post. When, we receive your DNA sample we start the analysis. In parallel, you receive an optional short questionnaire so you can receive your complete 35+ pages report based on both your Nature and Nurture and optionally add Karmagenes psychologist's custom advice regarding career orientation, partnership and overall wellbeing.
Q11. What if my results are ‘’bad’’?
There are no ‘’bad’’ results’’. Our vision is to promote the positiveness of our DNA. The Karmagenes genetic test does not give “good” or “bad” results on DNA traits regarding specific behavioral characteristics. For example, if my DNA says that I am ‘’low’’ in the social trait, then we suggest ways to increase your social skills. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will make you a better person.
Q12. At what age can I do Karmagenes test?
You should be legally capable (most of the countries by the age of 18 years old but it may depend on the regulations of your country regarding genetic testing.) If you are not legally capable to do the test, a written approval (including emails) of the legal guardian (s) should be submitted.
Q13. Do we have any hidden costs?
The Karmagenes genetic testing is offered against a one-off payment and all costs are included, except for the mailing costs to send the sample kit to the Karmagenes office. At this point you need to cover the return mailing cost. As a young company we haven’t come yet with a good solution to cover the return mailing cost but we are working on finding a customer cost-effective way. Practically, the customer pays much money for shipping costs and we want to reduce that.
Q14. What about ethical issues and behavioral genetics?
We are completely against any king of genetic testing and DNA analysis that is used or misused for discrimination or violation of human rights and dignity.
Q15. I am still worried regarding the link between DNA and behavior and how definite that can be.
That is completely normal and it is great to apply critical thinking in new projects. We understand that DNA-based personality test is a new concept and as in most new concepts there are initial concerns and doubts. Especially when it involves human behavior prediction. That’s why we do a forecasting by combining both nature and nurture based on the most accurate scientific studies to-date. We always aim to have the highest standards and our forecast only aim to help you better understand yourself to make better decisions regarding your personal and professional decisions. We will not change your life but we can make it better.
Q16. What information do we extract from and how do we treat the client DNA sample and data?
The information extracted from client DNA sample is only the specific regions linked to our scope of analysis. We only check the regions of interest that link DNA to behavior, nothing more. The DNA sample is destroyed afterwards. The data analysis (the scores linking DNA to each behavioral characteristic) is only used anonymously for statistical reasons and for the further improvement of the Karmagenes genetic test outcome. For more details about our Data Privacy please read: http://karmagenes.co/privacy-policy/. No one will get access to your data except upon your explicit written request.
Q17. How do we ensure anonymity?
To ensure anonymity, we apply asymmetric hashing to obscure the client identity; therefore there is no identifiable correlation between any work data set and the client data that belongs to.
Q18. How do we know which client each profile belongs to, then?
The reference document that maps the anonymous client ID to the actual client is encrypted and saved on a separate computer while the cryptographic keys are only accessible by the designated custodian.
Q19. What kind of algorithms we plan to use to match people?
We plan to use classification algorithms in order to identify to which of a set of classes (sub-populations) a user belongs. First we should do a training set and then use such algorithms to decide in which class a new user belongs to. We can do that with like k-means, support vector machines, neural networks, genetic algorithms and hidden Markov models.
Q20. How do we store and protect the data?
For storage, record keeping, archival and information recovery we rely on the ubiquitous Amazon S3 infrastructure. Once the analysis work with any dataset is finished, we apply strong cryptography locally before storing files to the server.
Q21. What is our record keeping policy?
Once the analysis work on any given data set is finished, we archive the record for a period of one year for quality assurance reasons. The record keeping period can be prolonged upon client specific request.
Q22. Do we have applicable processes in place?
We have been working on developing a standards policy framework following best practices from the ISO 27000 series on information security management and the ISO/IEC 20000 on IT service management. We plan to pursue certifications in due course.
Q23. What are Karmagenes regulatory mandates and certifications?
The genetic lab analysis is ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 17025:2005 certified and in accordance to the Swiss Federal act on Human Genetic Testing 810.12. Data privacy and professional confidentiality protection is provisioned under Art. 321bis of the Swiss Criminal Code.
Q24. What about genetic test providers and competition?
Having competition is healthy and shows people’s interest regarding genetics and behavioural genetics. Big corporate companies invest in genetic testing but still there is a long way to discover the mysterious world of how DNA works in details. There are quite a few genetic tests dealing mostly with health/illness related issues and they also do health interpretation. Some of them face problem with the regulatory authorities since the research done is not yet enough to give solid conclusions. There are also other genetic test providers that do genetic testing regarding ancestry/heritage traits. In addition, they do human compatibility and behavioral analysis through testing Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA), body odors, hormones and DNA. Regarding Karmagenes, we do not do any health interpretation; we do not do any immune system and body odors compatibility. We just link specific DNA regions with specific behavioural characteristics by extracting DNA from a saliva sample. Our interpretation of the genetic test analysis is based on the latest and on the highest standard of the molecular biology science, which is constantly improving thanks to the scientific and technological progress. The results of the genetic test issued by Karmagenes are based on the latest and published high standard scientific research. It should be noted that genetics and the question of the interactions of various genes is still an ever-developing science, which may affect the results of a genetic test at different moments in time.
Q25. Is direct to consumer genetic testing popular?
Already existing genetic test providers and quite a few new companies every 2nd or 3rd month to appear and provide DTC genetic testing. Big international corporations have started to invest in genetics and we strongly believe that genetics have entered our daily life. Keep in mind that some genetic tests are pretty good and some are not. Check the company’s team and advisor background, if they are qualified professionals, if they follow international standard protocols, if they are transparent. Ask them, and yourself, questions that you have in mind. Genetics have still a long way to be completely understood but the journey has started.
Q26. At the end of the day, what’s in it for me as a customer?
In a simplified manner, every person wants to have a happy personal and professional life. By better knowing yourself both on how you were born (nature and objectivity) and on how your environment affects you (nurture and perception) it can help you to make better decisions regarding your real potential, your career orientation, your ideal partner at work or life. We will not change your life but we can make it better.
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