We want to prioritize transparency and scientific integrity. That's why we offer an in-depth look into what's going on behind the scenes in our epigenetic testing laboratory.
From the ground up
We designed and built our own lab in Lexington, Kentucky, right next to our headquarters. From the start, we knew we didn't want to outsource samples to other companies.
This means we have some of the fastest turnaround times in the industry (only 2-3 weeks!).
We also guarantee that we will never share your data with an outside third party, without your explicit and informed consent.
What happens to your sample in our lab?
Once we receive your sample, we give it a unique barcode with our proprietary LIMS system, so your sample can’t be connected to personally identifiable information.
First, we carefully break the cells in your blood and push it through a filter that snags your DNA, leaving the other cell fragments behind. We can then wash the DNA, and re-suspend it in a clean solution, so we only have pure DNA for the next step.
The first step of DNA Quantification is to bind the DNA to a fluorescent marker - a molecule that sticks to the DNA in predictable spots, and glows when you shine UV light on it.
We then use the Tecan Infinite M Nano+, which is a piece of equipment capable of detecting and measuring light. It looks at the light that is absorbed or emitted by a sample when exposed to a specific wavelength.
This machine is basically a hyper-sensitive light detector that tells us exactly how much DNA is in that sample, based on how many glowing fluorescent markers were brought along for the ride.
Bisulfite Conversion is the gold standard of DNA Methylation analysis. It is the same technique used by world-class researchers to develop the first Epigenetic Clocks.
This step identifies the Methylated sites on the DNA, and the non-Methylated sites. During Bisulfite Conversion, non-Methylated locations are replaced by a neutral marker, while preserving Methylated sites.
This way, when we scan the DNA, we’re ONLY looking at the areas that have Methylation.
Amplification, Fragmentation, Precipitation & Resuspension
After Bisulfite Conversion, the DNA is Amplified. This means the DNA is replicated, over and over again like a copier machine. Then, a solution is added that chops the DNA into very small bits.
Since the chip we use is not built to bind to long pieces of DNA, this is a necessary step.
We use isopropanol alcohol precipitation to pull the fragments out of solution, and resuspend it again in a fresh solution. Now all of our little DNA bits are ready to be hybridized.
Once we have our fragmented DNA, we place the samples into the wells of the Methylation Bead Chips. These bead chips have tiny silica beads with the counterpart to specific DNA fragments.
When a DNA fragment from our sample finds a matching silica bead, it binds there. This is done in an environmentally controlled and sealed environment.
Beadchip Extension & Staining
This is the most delicate part of the process. A single nucleotide is added on the end of the DNA fragments on silica beads.
A tiny antibody designed to bind to the stain we use, then attaches to that single nucleotide
We use two stains: Red for the AT nucleotide pair. Green for the GC nucleotide
These stains let us tell the difference between these four nucleotides when scanning.
Speaking of delicate steps - We use the IScan Illumina machine to scan the stained samples.
This identifies individual points and patterns of Methylation on the DNA. We can scan around 900,000 locations.
Once we’ve detected your Methylation, we analyze those many patterns with a state-of-the-art algorithm that hones in on the Methylation sites related to Aging, to find your Biological Age and generate your report.
After 2-3 weeks of your sample going through this process at our laboratory, you'll receive an email, alerting you that your Biological Age report is ready to view!