Dec. 13, 2007 — -- If you're looking for true love, one new online dating Web site says that the key may lay inside…your cheek, that is.
ScientificMatch.com, a dating service launched earlier this week, is pledging to take relationships to "a whole new era" by becoming the first site to offer its customers DNA testing in an attempt to find the perfect mate.
Customers, who must pay $1,995 to join, are asked to swab the inside of their cheeks with a provided cotton swab, send it to a laboratory for testing, and then sit back and wait for the scientists to determine their immune system's genetic makeup.
"This is going to revolutionize the entire dating industry," said Eric Holzle, the founder of ScientificMatch.com. "We're providing the most perfect dating service that you're going to get, the best of both worlds."
"Everyone advertises chemistry, we're the only one that offers it," Holzle told ABC News.
Once a member's immune system genetics are determined, said Holzle, they are then matched to other members who have the opposite gene makeup.
According to Holzle, scientific research says that two parents with different immune system genes have a much greater chance of producing healthier offspring.
"Unlike your eye color – which is usually determined by either your mother or your father – your immune system is defined equally by both parents," explained Holzle, who is not a trained medical professional, but actually a mechanical engineer.
"Therefore, if both parents have varying immune system genes, the resulting baby will have a wide array of immune system genes, which means a more robust immune system."
Besides the unusual DNA test, the site is similar in many ways to other popular online dating services: Members can post photographs of themselves and information in their member profiles that their matches will be able to browse.
And unlike other dating sites like Match.com and EHarmony.com, Holzle said there are a few features on ScientificMatch.com – besides the DNA testing – that set it apart from its competitors.
A background check is performed on each member – the site will decline membership to convicted felons or anyone with a history of violent, sexual or Internet criminal activity – and there is no censorship of member profiles, even when it comes to individual's photographs.
But it's not the opportunity for vulgarity or the stringent background checks that has people talking. It's the idea that ScientificMatch.com is suggesting true love can be found at the end of a cotton swab, a premise medical professionals say is highly unlikely.
"Human attraction and human mating are obviously incredibly complex things," said Dr. James Evans, professor of genetics and director of the adult genetics program at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. "They are dependent on a myriad of factors that include genetic issues but probably most importantly environmental, cultural, and psychological issues."
While it is true in some sense that people who have opposite genetic make ups could produce a "healthier" child, Evans said there are far too many variables that could negate the parents' immune system genes and affect a child, whether at birth or later in his or her life.
"We simply don't know enough yet," said Evans. "Even though there is a very slim theoretical basis for the argument that those who are most distantly related have a greater chance of producing a healthy child, we know little about it and there are so many other factors that contribute to whether an individual is happy or healthy."
The research ScientificMatch.com hinges its services on are weak, several doctors told ABC News, and are not generally regarded as being sufficient evidence to prove that DNA testing could ever result in better relationships.
"It's pretty questionable turf and the evidence and the literature on the topic are thin at best," said Dr. Michael Watson, the executive director of the American College of Medical Genetics. "[ScientificMatch.com] offers some scientific literature that goes back as far as the mid-1970s that is credible science, but making the leap to improve love life and capability is extremely tenuous."
Despite Holzle's claims that ScientificMatch.com will revolutionize the world of online dating, genetic experts said that matching singles according to their genetics may only be a creative way to earn money, and not a significant medical discovery.
"[ScientificMatch.com] isn't breaking ground, it's found an interesting way to make money," said Watson. "I don't think it has enough credibility at this stage for the consumer to waste their money on it unless they have too much money."
So the handful of members who have joined the site since its inception just a few days ago may be out of luck – or at least a chunk of cash.
"People are wasting their time and their money if they're hoping they'll find their soul mate from DNA analysis," said Evans. "We simply don't yet know enough about DNA or about what makes people happy."