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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Baby, I Love Your Tight-fitting Genes


"The jewel in SingldOut’s crown is its collaboration with 
Instant Chemistry, a biotech company on the University of Toronto campus. Once a member has completed their profile they are 
sent – drum roll, please! – the world’s first consumer genetic test designed for the dating industry."

--Lisa Scott, Metro U.K. reporter/editor

Why waste time and effort finding your soul mate, your love of a lifetime. There is an easy way to find your most compatible significant other. And, no, I'm not talking about speed dating or computer dating where duds are much more common than successful matches. These methods are far from foolproof. One revealing study by global research agency OpinionMatters found that 53% of online daters admitted to being dishonest on their online profiles.

But, what is it were possible to find your true genetic love match -- the chemical connection of your life? That's exactly what the company SingldOut guarantees.

They base their infallible love search on past research that has suggested that genes indicating compatibility between immune systems might mean that two people are "chemically" well matched for a relationship. Now, SingldOut is combining that idea with now-easier genetic testing to offer a service allowing couples to find out if they're biologically compatible.

"We're trying to bridge the gap between the digital and biological worlds of love," said Jana Bayad, CEO of San Diego, California, startup SingldOut, in an interview with CBS MoneyWatch. Other companies  are also trying to make a business out of the genetics of compatibility.

(Erik Sherman. "Can You Find Your Genetic Love Match?" 
CBS Money Watch. November 11, 2014)
 
Here's how it works:
 
1. You subscribe. Click here for the website: https://singldout.com/#/. What is the cost? Presently, here are the options:

Free trial membership: Singldout offers a free 30-day trial membership for members who sign up with LinkedIn. 

Gold Membership: Gold Memberships include a complementary DNA kit shipped to you and back for free.
  • 3 months subscription is $149 or $49 monthly
  • 6 months subscription is $199 or $33 monthly
2. You receive a DNA test kit in the mail which tests the human leukocyte antigen, or HLA, of which there are three types.
 
3. You swab your mouth. SingldOut says, "The key benefit is that we give you a glimpse of what your relationship might look along 3 key biological dimensions:
 
Physical attraction → HLA test
Relationship satisfaction → Serotonin test
Personality compatibility → Personality questionnaire
 
4. You return the sample
 
5. The company finds others with the best match -- Opposites attract? It is believed the less your HLA matches your partner's, the more compatible you supposedly are. In the 1990s, an experiment reportedly found that people tended to be more attracted to the smells of the opposite gender whose HLA makeup was most dissimilar to their own.
 
The company insures they will never share your DNA data with anyone unless you ask us to. Your DNA sample will be destroyed immediately after it has been analyzed to establish your IC Biocompatibility Score.


Love Science or Love Baloney?
 
Evolution-centric theory suggests that the attraction is a natural one because a person is driven to look for someone with complementary immune issues, so that their offspring would in theory be less susceptible to diseases, rather than more susceptible if parental weaknesses reinforced each other.

SingldOut also looks at a gene involved in the regulation of serotonin. According to Bayad, the gene controls your inclination to react to stress in either a cool-headed or high-strung way. Basically, the company says science can determine whether someone is high-maintenance or low-maintenance. A couple is fine so long as both people aren't of the high-strung variety.
 
Still, while genetics seems to play some role in human sexual attraction, it clearly is not the only, or even predominant, factor determining human mate choice. Bayad emphasizes that the genetic factor accounts for only 40 percent of compatibility. The company does not see this test at all as deterministic. 
 
SingldOut wants to have this data available to users when they go on the database. In the future, they want to have a feature where a person can search just based on the HLA scores [immune system genes] or just search based on the serotonin scores or the psychological assessment scores.
 
"The whole purpose of this is to help single people, especially professionals who don't have time to go out and mingle, and see if they have chemistry with people," Bayad said. "It sheds some light on who you are as a person and how to make a relationship work."

Evolution-centric theory suggests that the attraction is a natural one because a person is driven to look for someone with complementary immune issues, so that their offspring would in theory be less susceptible to diseases, rather than more susceptible if parental weaknesses reinforced each other.

SingldOut also looks at a gene involved in the regulation of serotonin. According to Bayad, the gene controls your inclination to react to stress in either a cool-headed or high-strung way. Basically, the company says science can determine whether someone is high-maintenance or low-maintenance. A couple is fine so long as both people aren't of the high-strung variety.

Although it has long been known that other mammals, such as mice, selectively mate with partners having different genetic variants of their MHC genes, which control immune responses, a few studies have found that humans prefer sexual partners with only moderately different or even similar MHC variants, others have found that MHC diversity is detected by facial shape rather than smell, and still more have found that women in committed relationships are most attracted to men with different MHC alleles. 
 
Some studies have also discovered that women on birth control pills tend to prefer men with the same MHC variants, the opposite of their peers not on the pill. As one scientific review of the entire body of data concluded, “the mixed evidence … makes it difficult to draw definitive conclusions, [but] the large number of studies showing some MHC involvement suggests there is a real phenomenon that needs further work to elucidate.”

(Gary Marchant and Yvonne Stevens. "I Love Your Genes! www.slate.com. 2014)


The Future
 
In the very near future, we will have the opportunity to learn about all kinds of predispositions and inclinations buried in our DNA, from health risks to behavioral tendencies to traits affecting abilities such as intelligence, athleticism, and musical talent. It is an amazing new world of information.
 
Few, if any, of these genetic findings will be deterministic, but they will be a scientific window into the unique individuals we are and the person we may become. Genetic testing provides us an opportunity to explore these once-hidden influences.

What will this mean to the way people view "the spark of love"? Although all of this sounds far-fetched, unromantic, and antiseptic, perhaps we are making important discoveries about human compatibility while solving some of need to better understand ourselves as we seek love.

"Whilst it may be our species greatest achievement, responsible 
for every technological advance we have or ever will make, 
science is also poop and sex and boogers.”
 
 --Katie McKissick, What's in Your Genes
 

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