New Dating App Uses DNA to Help People Find Love

28 March, 2018

Creators of a new dating app are using people's genetics to help people find love. They claim that, with tissue from inside someone's mouth, the app can match people with others they are most likely to find attractive.

The company is called Pheramor. The name is a combination of the words "pheromone" -- the small molecules sent from the body and smelled by the people around us -- and "amour", the French word for love.

Love from science

The company says their app is based on 40 years of research showing there are 11 genetic markers proven by scientists to be "responsible for attraction."

Asma Mirza is the company's chief and co-creator. She said, "Pheramor looks at genetics-based human attraction and social media metadata to help people increase their efficiency of dating."

Rasmus Nielsen is a professor of computational biology and human genetics at UC-Berkeley. He says there are some links between the 11 genetic markers, called MHC type, and attraction. However, it is still difficult to reach a scientific conclusion.

"There is some idea that maybe when we mate, we avoid individuals with the same MHC type. And that's what they are basing it on... It's still very, very, very, very controversial as to whether humans can even do this. And there's really very little science into whether it would help us predict mates," Nielsen said.

However, Nielsen added that research has shown that mice can recognize DNA that is similar to the DNA of their parents. Mice also know to avoid mating with family members.

On the company website, Pheramor says, "We are constantly smelling each other's pheromone profiles," and deciding how attractive an individual is without even noticing it.

Pheramor names a study from the 1990s called "The Sweaty T-shirt Experiment." In that study, women rated clothing worn for three days by individual men. The scientists found that women were more attracted to the scent of a man whose genetics were more different than their own.

But Nielsen says that kind of study has never really been repeated successfully.

Creating a fuller picture

Pheramor creators say critics are too concerned about the app's use of pheromones. They note that the app does not only look at genetic information. It also looks at a person's social media activity. This information offers a fuller picture of someone's behavior and interests.

Asma Mirza, chief and co-creator of the dating company Pheramor.
Asma Mirza, chief and co-creator of the dating company Pheramor.

Users can connect all of their social media activity to the app. Pheramor then uses its algorithm to help find matches.

Users send the company a sample of tissue from inside their mouths. It takes about two weeks to get the test results. The test costs $19.99. Pheramor also charges users $10 a month.

Along with helping people find love, the company says it is is also helping save lives.

The same 11 genetic markers they are looking at are the same used to fight blood cancers. Pheramor is working with a national cancer registry called Gift of Life. Pheramor users can choose to be added to the registry to possibly be a match for someone fighting leukemia, lymphoma or other blood cancers.

I'm Phil Dierking.

This story was originally written by Salem Solomon for the VOAnews. Phil Dierking adapted it using other media. Phil Dierking adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

DO you think love can be predicted by genetics? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

app - n. a computer program that performs a special function

match - v. to make or see a connection or relationship between (two people or things)

algorithm - n. a set of steps that are followed in order to solve a mathematical problem or to complete a computer process

attract - v. to cause (someone) to choose to do or be involved in something

controversial - adj. relating to or causing much discussion, disagreement, or argument

efficient - adj. capable of producing desired results without wasting materials, time, or energy

metadata - n. a set of data that describes and gives information about other data.

profile - n. a brief written description that provides information about someone or something

sample - n. a small amount of something that gives you information about the thing it was taken from