Here’s an update on MyHeritageDNA processing times – Update Regarding DNA Test Processing Times: https://blog.myheritage.com/2019/04/update-regarding-dna-test-processing-times/.
Since the beginning of March 2019, our customers have experienced delays in the processing of their MyHeritage DNA tests and the arrival of their DNA results due to our upgrade to a new and more advanced DNA chip. DNA test processing at MyHeritage is closely monitored from start to finish and we take delays very seriously. We’d like to explain what caused this unexpected delay and update our customers on the current status.
The chips that we use for reading DNA samples in our lab and converting them to digital data are developed by Illumina, a company considered to be the “Intel” of DNA processing. These chips are produced with very sophisticated technology. They are not electronic chips but are made of glass slides harboring millions of tiny beads. Each bead is coated with synthetically generated DNA strands of about 50 nucleotides each that serve as probes. When the DNA of a customer is placed on a chip, it binds with the probes and generates an optical signal that is read by laser using lab devices produced by Illumina. This is a simplistic description of what goes on behind the scenes at the lab. For a more complete picture you are welcome to view our lab video.
Until recently, MyHeritage DNA tests were processed using Illumina’s Omni chip. To provide our customers with a more robust and powerful analysis, we decided to upgrade to a new and more advanced custom-designed version, based on Illumina’s Global Screening Array (GSA) chip. The process of designing the content of the new chip and working with Illumina for them to manufacture it for us took more than a year.
Unfortunately, Illumina ran out of the Omni chip supply before ensuring the timely delivery of the new GSA chip to our lab. In addition, our DNA kit sales far exceeded our forecasts, and we had no stock of chips left to compensate for the delay in Illumina’s delivery of the new GSA chip. Illumina no longer had the capability to produce more Omni chips, and we did not want to lose much more time by switching to another chip maker. This rendered us unable to process the thousands of kits that arrive at our lab daily, and deliver results on time, for a period of more than a month.
Once we received the new GSA chips, we ran multiple tests to ensure that they meet our high standards, and then worked around the clock to process the backlog of kits. We sent an apology email to the affected customers informing them of the delay and provided them with an estimated time frame for receiving their results. The biggest delay was with samples that arrived at the lab during January and February, which were almost ready to get their results, when the chips ran out. The good news is that we have almost entirely succeeded in processing that backlog. In April, up till now, we have already processed more than 90% of the delayed samples and provided their results to our customers. Unfortunately, 10% of these delayed samples are still waiting on the results and they will be handled soon. Based on information from the lab, the majority of the remaining delayed samples will complete processing within the next 3 days, and the rest (a few thousand) will take up to 2 weeks longer.
Except during peak periods following Christmas sales, processing in the lab normally takes 3–4 weeks from the moment the lab receives a sample. This is the processing schedule we have delivered in 2017 and 2018 and we’ll soon be able to return to that schedule.
Samples that arrived at the lab during March 2019 have been queued behind the delayed samples from January and February, and most of them will be processed in 5–6 weeks from arrival at the lab. Samples that arrive in April will take 4–6 weeks, and samples that will arrive at the lab from May onwards should take the standard 3–4 weeks. After this, we do not expect any further delays. On a positive note, we do anticipate improved DNA results with our new chip.
We sincerely apologize for the delays and we thank our customers for their continued patience and support.
The MyHeritage team