Far fetched application for genomics: dating ?

July 25, 2008 at 3:47 pm 1 comment

This could sound like a scenario from a sci-fi movie: allowing people to meet and match based on their genetic profiles. However it is reality ; there are already two companies proposing such services : ScientificMatch (US-based) and GenePartner (based in Switzerland).

ScientificMatch claims range the gamut from “better sex life” and are “supported by peer-reviewed articles” (except one) :

1. You’ll love their natural body fragrance–they’ll smell “sexier” than other people.
2. You’ll have a more satisfying sex life.
3. If you’re a woman, you’ll have a higher rate of orgasms.
4. There will be less cheating in your exclusive relationship.
5. As a couple, you’ll be more fertile.
6. Your children will be healthier.

GenePartner bases its matching on a $299 test of HLA, and gives the following explanation :

A greater variety in HLA genes offers a greater variety in possible immune responses. In terms of evolution, this makes perfect sense: children of couples with a higher variety in their HLA genes (and hence, immune responses) will have better protection from a greater variety of diseases.

Only time will tell if these services are (commercially) successful, and even more time to know whether couples formed form their matching live up to their claims. Some have also criticized such services

  1. for lack of scientific soundness (and lack of the ‘magic’ element of a natural match)
  2. for ethical reasons, ranging from privacy concerns to the issue that matching based purely on genes could be assimilated to eugenics.

What is certain is that it relies upon the pervasive feeling that our genetic makeup holds many keys to who we really are, and what life has in store for us. This is probably more true for our prospects for health & disease than for love & romance, but we should expect personal genomics to become more and more visible in our future society.

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