Health Testing Reviews for Wobblebase

At a Glance

Editor's Rating:
2.5 out of 5 stars
Customer Service:
1 out of 5 stars
Clarity of Results:
2 out of 5 stars
References Cited:
4.5 out of 5 stars
Value for Money:
5 out of 5 stars

Summary

The myWobble app provided a means to reuse my raw genetic data for free. Though it contained some interesting information backed by scientific studies, it was not consistent in detail and appeared unpolished and in some cases unfinished.

It wasn’t easy to get my data onto the platform, since linking directly with my 23andMe account caused it to crash, and so I had to upload the actual file from my phone. Though they claimed the platform was secure, it didn’t seem as if it was still being maintained with any regularity.

Full Review

The myWobble app was developed by Wobblebase, Inc., a genetic health company founded in 2012 and based in Delaware and San Francisco. The company seeks to promote proactive, personalised healthcare by redefining how we organise, visualise and manage genomic data.

Product Expectations

I went to the app store to download myWobble. Here, I could view screenshots of the app, and a description of what I could expect.

I read that myWobble is a private, portable and intuitive personal genomics app. It would use my genetic data file to create visual, easy-to-interpret information. I would be able to upload and privately store my genetic data on my device, which would be password protected.

I learned that the app would connect me to all publicly available information connected to variants in my genome, including ancestry data, health information, potential resistances or sensitivities to medications, and traits predicting certain physical features.

The app would provide links between my genomic data and the evolving body of published scientific data supporting connections between genetic variations and certain traits.

If I wanted to, I could upload multiple data files to compare, and import different file formats from different providers.

I saw that I would be able to browse my genetic data in an integrated “Genome Browser”, and access a calculator tool allowing me to select or de-select the individual genetic variants for a trait to understand the individual contribution of each variant. They also mentioned an option to order 3D printing of my proteins, though I could see no options for this in the app.

Lastly, I read that myWobble is not a medical or diagnostic tool, and that the company would not access, sell, lease or rent my genetic data.

Ordering Experience

I could download the app from the Apple App Store, and it was compatible with iPhone and iPad. Before uploading my genetic data, it was necessary to sign up for an account using my email address and a password. I was then sent a verification email.

When I went to upload my data, I saw there was an option to connect directly with 23andMe. I was able to log into my 23andMe account, but after granting access to myWobble the app crashed. I tried a couple more times with the same result. There was a link explaining how to connect with AncestryDNA, so I tried this instead, but found it had been deleted from the FAQs.

I’d nearly given up at this point (I wasn’t sure I trusted the security of an app that had apparently been abandoned), but there were still a couple of options remaining to me: uploading a data file from iCloud or Dropbox.

After transferring my data file into “Files” on my phone, I was able to access it from the myWobble app and upload my data, which worked!

I was then able to create a profile. I could give my name (which didn’t have to be a full name), select my gender, upload a picture, write a “Description”, give my date of birth, and select my origin.

My origin had been automatically selected as “Northern and Western European”. The other options were “Mexican”, “Japanese”, “Gujarati Indians”, “Luhya in Webuye, Kenya”, “Chinese”, “Han Chinese”, “Toscans in Italy”, “Maasai in Kinyawa, Kenya”, “African ancestry in Southwest USA”, and “Yoruba in Ibadan, Nigeria”. This list was not exactly exhaustive, and struck me as both sporadically very specific and very general. I wondered which option I would select if I were – say – Korean or Argentinian, and I suspected that these specific populations had been chosen because they had appeared in a sufficient amount of research.

The Results

The results were divided into Health, Traits, Nutrition, Exercise and Ancestry.

Results Section: Health

For a few of the health traits, my 23andMe data didn’t seem to have all the genomic data they needed to calculate a result. Still, I did have results for a lot of conditions, many of which I’d never heard of and seemed pretty obscure!

The different results varied in the amount of information provided, and some – like my result for asthma – had pictures and diagrams, while others didn’t. Looking at my asthma result, I found that my risk had been calculated as 5.5%, which was 1.5% higher than average (shown below).

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My asthma result.

My asthma result.

There was plenty of information about asthma, a condition that affects the lungs and causes tightening of the airways. For people at high risk of developing asthma, it was recommended to be aware of the symptoms and to seek treatment if needed. People with higher risk should avoid lung irritants like smoke, dust and pollen, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I was able to view the different genes and genetic variants that had contributed to my score, and could select or de-select different variants to see how much each one contributed.

Within each result there were different tabs: “Calculate”, “Compare”, “Browse”, and “Read”. The result overview and variant calculator were on the “Calculate” tab. Clicking “Compare”, I found I could compare my result with another data file (there was a dummy genetic data file for “John Doe”, who apparently had celiac disease).

Clicking “Browse” took me to the genome browser, which, while visually impressive, was extremely complicated and well above my understanding of genetics! (Shown below.)

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The genome browser for the genetic variants associated with asthma.

The genome browser for the genetic variants associated with asthma.

I could view the position of each variant within the different chromosomes, and which variant version I had, but I couldn’t see any use for the browser beyond that.

On the “Read” tab, I could view the different academic papers they had used to select the variants for each trait.

Other conditions I had results for included alcoholic liver disease, alcoholism, ankylosing spondylitis (which turned out to be a chronic inflammatory disease of the axial skeleton), anxiety, aspirin resistance, bipolar disorder, diabetes types 1 and 2, Graves’ disease, hypertension, stroke, melanoma, and many others!

Results Section: Traits

The “Traits” section seemed to be a sort of genetic “catch-all”. It included results for ADHD, aggressive behaviour, avoidance of errors, B12 levels, baldness, ability to taste bitterness, and more.

I had trouble understanding some of these results. For instance, for “Lifespan” my 23andMe data included two of the three variants looked at, and though I was told which versions of the genetic variants I had, there wasn’t any indication of what these actually meant in terms of my likelihood of living longer or shorter.

I had a look at my result for Warrior vs. Worrier, one of the few personality-related genetic traits to have been identified so far. The Warrior type is associated with higher COMT enzyme activity, meaning that Warriors break down dopamine more quickly, and so get less pleasure out of pleasurable experiences. In the information, I read that Warriors may have “an advantage in the processing of aversive stimuli”, meaning that they are better at handling stress.

Worriers, on the other hand, take longer to break down dopamine, and may perform better at memory and attention tasks. They have a lower pain threshold, greater vulnerability to stress, and are generally more efficient at processing information under most conditions (other than stressful ones, presumably).

I could see benefits to belonging to either type, and so was pleased to see that I had both the Warrior and Worrier alleles, meaning that I should fall somewhere between the two.

As with the health traits, I was able to view the different genetic variants in the genome browser, to compare with another genome, and to read the scientific journals that had been referenced.

Results Section: Nutrition

My nutrition results were not all that comprehensive, and varied in how informative they were. For some results, such as “Diet Preference: Carbohydrates” I didn’t have a result. For my result for “Diet”, I was given only a few genetic variants, without any description or indication of what they meant.

On the other hand, for “Anxiety in response to caffeine” I was given plenty of information about how caffeine can cause anxiety, and three different genetic variants all showing that I had “normal” response to caffeine.

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Information about the anxiety response to caffeine.

Information about the anxiety response to caffeine.

The items included in the Nutrition section seemed like they’d been selected at random, and seemed to bear little relation to each other. The ten results included were: “Alcohol metabolism”, “Anxiety in response to caffeine”, “Association between Alcohol and Coronary Heart Disease”, “Beta-carotene levels”, “Caffeine metabolism”, “Diet”, “Diet Preference: Carbohydrates”, “Dietary fat and weight gain”, “Peanut Allergies”, and “Satiety- Full after Eating”.

I assumed that this motley selection had been chosen because of the research available, though they didn’t all seem quite informative or relevant enough to merit a Nutrition section in addition to Health.

Results Section: Exercise

The “Exercise” section was rather more comprehensive. The results covered things like bone and muscle composition, injury risks, and potential nutrient deficiencies (which could have belonged in the Nutrition section).

The results in this section contained a consistently high amount of information, though often the traits they looked at relied on only one genetic variant. The information for “Strength and composition of connective tissue” was particularly detailed, though I didn’t have any of the four variants they needed to reach a result.

There was one quite interesting result, which was “Learning and lifestyle behaviors”. This used only one genetic variant, which apparently gave me a slightly increased risk of poorer short-term memory (guilty), made me more likely to try cigarettes, and more likely both to overeat and to have a higher BMI.

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My result for “Learning and lifestyle behaviors”.

My result for “Learning and lifestyle behaviors”.

I found it strange that this one variant had been linked to so many different things, and I wondered why it had been placed in the “Exercise” section rather than “Traits”, for instance.

On the “Read” tab, I discovered that this gene apparently covered so many things because it had been used in different studies with different purposes. One study had linked it to smoking behaviour, while another had linked it to substance-related and eating disorders, and still another had linked it to obesity.

My genotype was T;C. In the information, I found that neither T nor C was particularly desirable! C had been linked to eating disorders and addiction, while T was linked to poor short-term memory, though it may protect against depression.

Amongst my results I found another suggestion that I was prone to a high BMI (which isn’t true, though the related genes may be “switched off” in my case). I also found I may be prone to high blood pressure, to decreased heart rate recovery, to having a typical pain threshold, and to having lower levels of inflammation following exercise.

The Exercise section was probably the most detailed and useful of all of them, though some information was conflicting or confusing, or seemed out-of-place in this section.

Results Section: Ancestry

The “Ancestry” section was divided into maternal and paternal haplogroups. Since I only had data for my maternal haplogroup, I’ll only review this sub-section.

The maternal haplogroup results section was far more interesting and detailed than I’d expected. It included an interactive migratory map, showing the journey of my subgroup from Africa into the Middle East and Europe (shown below).

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My maternal haplogroup map.

My maternal haplogroup map.

By scrolling through the arrows, I was able to follow my haplogroup’s progress from central and western Africa 110,000 to 170,000 years ago. My ancestors migrated first into eastern Africa, and then split into haplogroup N, a group covering east Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. They then branched out into R, a vast group that spread out to cover northern Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia, Indonesia, and Australia.

My ancestors then split into JT, which I read was a common haplogroup among the Etruscans (an ancient people residing near Rome in Italy). My subgroup, J1, appeared around 45,000 years ago, and began with a woman living in the Near East. From the map, I gathered that the haplogroup is shared by people from Iceland, Great Britain, Ireland, northern Spain, Norway, Sweden, Turkey, parts of Russia, and the Near East.

Summary

The myWobble app provided a means to reuse my raw genetic data for free. Though it contained some interesting information backed by scientific studies, it was not consistent in detail and appeared unpolished and in some cases unfinished.

It wasn’t easy to get my data onto the platform, since linking directly with my 23andMe account caused it to crash, and so I had to upload the actual file from my phone. Though they claimed the platform was secure, it didn’t seem as if it was still being maintained with any regularity.

See a description of this DNA test from Wobblebase >