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DNA Matching to find your True Love?  Sounds bogus to me…

This sounds SO ridiculous to me: Getting matched based on your DNA?  Come on,now, folks.  What does your DNA have to do with love and attraction and long-term relationships?  Don’t get sucked into this one. 

From the Washington Post:

Ok, We Have Our First DNA-Based Dating Service: GenePartner

Tuesday, July 22, 2008; 1:48 AM

It was only a matter of time before someone launched a dating site that looks for potential matches based on DNA compatibility. That time is apparently today with the launch of GenePartner (ok, it’s not the first, but it’s the cheapest).

The Switzerland-based company says they can use a $199 DNA test (compare to $1,000 for 23andMe) to help you find your perfect match, statistically speaking. They’ve analyzed “hundreds of couples” and have determined the genetic patterns found in successful relationships. Based on their algorithm and your DNA, they’ll determine the probability for a satisfying and long-lasting relationship between two people (color me skeptical).

What about romance? Chemistry? That certain je ne sais quoi when you meet someone and get a tingling sensation in your stomach? Forget it. The future of dating is DNA tests and buccal swabs, so get used to it:

A brush for collecting your DNA sample from your saliva ? called a buccal swab kit ? will be sent to your address. Following the simple instructions included with the kit you will gently collect the DNA from the inside of your cheek. Use the addressed envelope supplied for returning the brushes.

GenePartner is looking to partner with dating sites and have those services encourage users to see if they’re a DNA match.

Will they be able to avoid tough emerging U.S. laws around genetic testing? Well, they’re in Switzerland. My guess is they’re not going to be too worried about California and other state laws prohibiting their service.

From the Roanoke Times:

What your DNA can (and can’t) tell you about you

Mehmet and Mike are happily married. No, not to each other. To two wonderful ladies (one each, of course). But if they weren’t and they lived, say, near Boston, a peculiar dating service might arouse their curiosity.

For $1,995.95, a company called ScientificMatch.-com claims that if you crack open its special kit, rub a cotton swab on the insides of your cheeks and ship the swab to its lab, that the company will use the DNA it collects to find your soul mate.

The company examines the genes that relate to your immune system—technically, the genes in your major histocompatibility complex—to match you with another member of the dating service who has a very different MHC makeup.

Studies suggest that people are more likely to feel that romantic lightning-in-a-bottle called “chemistry” when they have genetically dissimilar immune systems. (One theory suggests that blending diverse genes gives children stronger immune systems, so it’s an evolutionary advantage.)

This matchmaking venture is just one of dozens of consumer-based genetic testing services that have popped up in recent years. Many others promise to look into your DNA and tell you whether you’re susceptible to certain medical disorders. For about $1,000 and up (not covered by health insurance), services such as 23andMe, Navigenics, Genelex, deCODE Genetics and others will scan your DNA for gene markers linked to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, certain cancers and more. Other tests claim to identify nutritional deficiencies and then provide diet advice.

Beyond these pricey services, many over-the-counter DNA test kits are now sold in drugstores for as little as $30. Send in your swab and, for an additional $200 and up, they’ll test your DNA for markers of lupus, sickle cell anemia, depression, glaucoma, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, high blood iron ... the list goes on.

Are they legitimate? In the case of romantic bliss, we have seen the studies linking diverse MHC with sexual attraction in animals and humans.

But we also know that these limited studies—like nearly all research involving genetic testing—probably reveal only a tiny part of a complex process that nobody truly understands yet. So we’d take any advice from ScientificMatch.com (or any other personal DNA-mapping or -matching service) with a grain of salt the size of a Volkswagen.

Gene testing is an amazing tool. Mapping the human genome has yielded powerful new weapons against cancers of the breast, ovaries, colon, prostate and others.

In fact, we have colleagues who refer people for testing for the BRCA 1 and 2 breast-cancer genes every week. For adopted children, gene testing may be the only way to acquire valuable medical information. These tests are conducted by certified laboratories and interpreted by physicians who can help patients decipher and use the findings.

Also, while research has identified genes that contribute to about 1,400 diseases or disorders, so far most of these provide only preliminary clues. And with certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, genetic mutations don’t always mean you’ll get a disease. So you really need a counselor help you interpret the results.

The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate the quality of the counseling you get after using one of these consumer DNA tests. These kits could give you helpful information, or leave you feeling falsely safe or needlessly scared. Before trying one, start with these steps:

n Thoroughly discuss your family medical history with your doctor, going back to your grandparents. This can yield vital information. Counselors should ask for this history; if they don’t, you need a different laboratory and counselor.

n If you decide to go ahead, be sure that the company keeps your test results confidential. A recent federal law prohibits job or health insurance discrimination based on genetic tests, but we’re still in uncharted legal territory.

n Review the test results with your doctor or a certified genetic counselor (ask your doc for a referral), not just a rep from the testing company, especially before buying pricey supplements or additional services.

Comment on posting on OnlinePersonalsWatch:

When you take a healthy objective and critical look at these claims of “chemistry” related to DNA matching, one quickly realizes that there’s nothing substantive there to back them up. In fact, some companies have no grasp of the very research they tout to justify their methods.

However, my team has volunteered pro bono to conduct a real-world test of at least one company’s claims. The double-blind experiment would then be submitted for academic publication. It’s disappointing, but not that surprising, that this particular company desperately avoided this offer.

Interested reporters are encouraged to contact me for full details.

As an industry insider and respected compatibility researcher, my professional opinion is that consumers should stay away from DNA dating (and save money on these costly services) until real-world validation studies on their services prove they actually predict relationship quality.


James Houran, Ph.D.



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