Forget mistletoe - what about DNA?

A new dating service matches singles using major histocompatibility complex genes

kerry grens
Kerry Grens

Kerry served as The Scientist’s news director until 2021. Before joining The Scientist in 2013, she was a stringer for Reuters Health, the senior health and science reporter at...

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Dec 13, 2007
A new dating service that launched this week for Boston-area singles claims that it can get the chemistry right when fixing up potential mates -- literally. ScientificMatch.com uses DNA samples from customers to match them with others who have different alleles for major histocompatibility complex genes. MHC proteins sit on the surface of cells and detect pathogens, but they also appear to play a role in sexual attraction. In sniff tests of dirty t-shirts, people tend to be most attracted to the scent of the shirt whose owner has different MHC alleles from the sniffer. One explanation is that this phenomenon evolved to promote genetic diversity between mates.For $1,995 and a cheek swab sent off for DNA analysis, customers can find the love of their lives, or so says Eric Holzle, a Massachusetts engineer and long-time dater. Kerry Grens spoke to him on December 11, the day the site went...

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