DNA Love Connection? Test Uses Genetics to Determine Compatibility

PHOTO: Taso and Maria Pardalis, who have been married for five years, are seen here holding an Instant Chemistry kit.
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With their latest service devoted to helping couples search for their soul mate, a group of scientists say that in the search for compatibility, love is all about DNA compatibility.

They call it Instant Chemistry, a company founded by Ron Gonzalez, a psychologist and neuroscientist, and his wife, Sara Seabrooke, a geneticist.

They said they were inspired to create Instant Chemistry after seeing how many marriages fail.

"If we can help reduce those divorce rates by helping couples learn more about themselves [and] really have that insight that you would take ... 10 to 15 years to get and you could have it today, you can imagine that that could help ease a lot of relationship tensions," Gonzalez said.

The key to Instant Chemistry, they said, is in the DNA. Couples can use a test that looks at genes in the immune system. According to Gonzalez and Seabrooke, the more differences there are between two people's immune systems, the more attractive they'll find each other.

"If you have two people come together with very different immune systems and they have a child, the child is getting immune system genes from both the mother and the father," Seabrooke said. "The more diverse those genes are, the more chance the child has of withstanding different pathogens or infections than if their immune systems were similar between both parents."

I Put My Marriage to the Genetic Test

Instant Chemistry's test also looks at the serotonin transporter gene, a gene that determine a human's personality, such as if a person has mood swings or is more even-tempered.

"Essentially, we tell you how you and your partner may deal with a conflicted situation," Seabrooke said. "We give you the breakdown of how the genetics plays a role in your relationship and also how psychology plays a role."

While Gonzalez and Seabrooke said the test won't guarantee that couples will be conflict-free, they said that it's a tool that can help a couple strengthen their relationship. If someone is looking for a partner, the test can also help them find someone they will more likely have a satisfactory relationship with over time.

The Instant Chemistry lab is located in Toronto, Canada. For $199, couples can get an Instant Chemistry kit delivered to their house. All that's needed for the test is a bit of saliva from each person.

Since the company's launch in January, Instant Chemistry has sold 200 kits worldwide, Gonzalez and Seabrooke said. Through partnerships with matchmaking services like Agape Match in New York and Singld Out in Los Angeles, they said their product has resulted in dozens of happy relationships.

However, some say that there isn't enough data out there to prove Instant Chemistry's claims. Other scientists said that the test is bogus because variability between people who take the test will inevitably exist and that the test just over-interprets what happens naturally.

"If you're talking about just randomly putting people together, you have to start thinking about probabilities. What's the probability of two people coming together who are just randomly meeting and [being] this different from each other?" Seabrooke said of the criticism. "It's [a] very low chance that two people have actually come together by chance that are this diverse in their immune system."

When couple Hagan Blount and Katie Smith-Adair, who have been dating for almost a year, took the test, they said they were interested in the science behind it.

"You can cheat on compatibility, can guess what you're going to find out about yourself if you guess A, C or whatever, but this is actually science," Smith-Adair said.

When the results came in, Blount and Smith-Adair learned that had a 10 percent genetic compatibility.

"They didn't explain this at all," Blount said. "I really want more information about the science here. I don't get what any of these numbers mean."

Blount and Smith-Adair did get a 75 percent emotional compatibility score, a score they thought should weigh more heavily than the genetic score.

Happily married for five years, Maria and Taso Pardalis took the test and learned they had a 75 percent emotional compatibility and, what the company calls, a nearly perfect genetic compatibility of 98 percent.

"It's good to know," Taso Pardalis said. "I'm glad I know."

"Well it's good, also because we have two kids so that means they have a good genetic makeup," added Maria Pardalis. "Obviously I'm very happy."

Watch the full story on ABC News' "Nightline Prime," Saturday, June 28, at 10 p.m. ET.

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