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You Smell Sexy… Is That DNA You’re Wearing?

16. October 2009 by Michelle 0 Comments

You ask her about her likes, her dislikes, and if you’re brave, you ask for her phone number. What about her genetic code? Fingerprints and iris scans are used in the corporate world for identity and security, but what about using our unique biological makeup to meet your soul mate? ScientificMatch.com and GenePartner.com collect, analyze, and store their members’ DNA to match people together. At least your DNA date can’t say “I just don’t have any chemistry with you!”


The Claims

Finding a perfect DNA match between 2 people actually means that their immune system genes are different. This is nature’s way of encouraging us to breed with people who have different immune systems, therefore providing the offspring with a wider variety of genes. Healthier babies are just one of the DNA matchmaking system claims. Others include a more satisfying sex life, a reduced rate of cheating, and higher fertility compatibility. The most interesting claim is that you will love the natural body fragrance of your match. They can’t guarantee that you will fall in love with your biological match, but you will enjoy their body odor! 


Smelling Sweaty T-Shirts   

The smell factor is originally what inspired these DNA matchmaking services to come about. Subtle chemical signals, known as pheromones, draw pairs together. A sweaty t-shirt experiment conducted by a Swiss zoologist tested female’s sensitivity to male’s odors. The women smelled the t-shirts worn by the men for 2 nights, then rated the smells on intensity, pleasantness, and sexiness. Overall, the women preferred the scents of the men whose immune system DNA was different from their own. Entrepreneurs knew there had to be a way to market this valuable research and DNA dating was created.


The Controversy

Just swab your cheek and ship it off! Simple enough. But storing people’s unique and information-laden DNA strands is a highly debated topic. Are you willing to mail off your identity’s blueprints to just anyone? Some argue this method is intrusive. Others worry that their sample could get misplaced or swapped with someone else’s.


A bigger concern is the possibility of DNA being auctioned off to health insurance companies since this form of genetic testing is mostly unregulated. Some countries, such as the U.S. and Germany, have enacted legislation making it illegal for employers and insurance companies to use genetic testing information. California and New York have gone one step further, requiring all genetic testing to be performed by medical doctors.


Love is complicated. Trying to use science to determine a compatible mate is an interesting experiment, but there are so many other factors that result in a true love connection. General lifestyle choices such as diet, smoking and drinking habits can’t be identified through DNA, neither can character traits, which many people consider paramount in choosing a mate. Maybe future scientific discoveries will unlock the code, but predicting compatibility through genetic profiling today remains a mystery.