Genetic Dating Services

Here is an interesting news item forwarded to me from one of our physicians. You have probably heard of dating / matching services like Match.com and EHarmony.com. Now there is a new site, ScientificMatch.com which offers to find your perfect mate through DNA testing!

For the mere fee of $1,995 you may join this new dating service. Membership will include a cotton swab for you to swab or brush the inside of your cheeks and send for laboratory testing. Testing will determine the genetic make-up of your immune system and once determined, you are matched to service members who have the opposite genetic composition.

According to Eric Holze, founder of ScientificMatch.com, there is research supporting the idea that two parents of opposite or different immune system make-ups may have a greater likelihood of producing healthier children. Mr. Holze is not a medical or genetics professional, but is a mechanical engineer by training.

From the genetics perspective it is recognized that many human traits and behaviors are complex in nature; this would certainly include human attraction and mating. There are certain genetic factors involved but equally or even more significantly there are environmental, social, and cultural factors. It is also known that many variables can affect gene expressions and the overall health of an individual.

Dr. Michael Watson, executive director of the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG), states that the research literature on this topic is “thin at best” and that perhaps this is “an interesting way to make money”.

What conclusions should we draw from this news item?

1) There is little scientific evidence to support the claim that parents with “opposite” immune system compositions will produce healthier offspring. 2) Genetic testing can have implications for other family members and often requires the services of genetic counseling. 3) We need to be wary of claims or advertisements involving genetic testing that promise definitive results.