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Toronto startup uses DNA to help find your perfect date

Posted by Derek Flack / September 20, 2013

Instant Chemistry Dating DNAA new Toronto-based startup wants to revolutionize matchmaking by taking it to a genetic level. According to the company, aptly named Instant Chemistry, research suggests that 40 per cent of physical attraction can be attributed to genetic compatibility. Ok, sure. I don't have the time to wade through decades of mind-numbing scientific journals to corroborate this, so I'll take that at face value.

From what I understand about evolution, it makes sense that our DNA would play a significant role in determining who it is we'd like to reproduce with. And besides, if you've ever read a Michel Houellebecq novel, the first thing you'll probably think at hearing of this scheme is that it represents the most logical progression of the online dating industry. Why bother with personality questionnaires when you can take it to the genes?

In quick brushstrokes, the company provides a basic kit to consumers who then test themselves and return the swab for analysis. At present, Instant Chemistry is paired with two pre-existing dating services ‐ Misty River Introductions (Ontario & Quebec) and Camelot Introductions (Manitoba & Saskatchewan) — who plan to match members based on the compatibility of their genetic tests. This is a pretty humble start given the size of these services, but I suppose that makes sense.

It would appear that most of Instant Chemistry's claims for the viability of this matchmaking potential involve our bodily scent, which is controlled by the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA). This all sounds like it make sense, but it will be interesting to see how practically it can be applied. What do you think? Is this the way of the future?



Cyril Sneer / September 20, 2013 at 12:56 pm
I won't question the validity of the science, but in an era where more and more dating is taking place online I have to wonder how they'll capture that market.
Michael / September 20, 2013 at 01:24 pm
I will go ahead and question the validity of the science. HLAs are used to match organ donors and recipients, not partners in a relationship. If you read the "Research" section, it is filled with claims that are not backed up by references to peer-reviewed research... RED FLAG!?

It's actually a pretty smart venture because a) the vast majority of people are scientifically illiterate and b) the company doesn't guarantee anything, they only offer to increase the chances of finding a compatible mate.

In short, I wouldn't give these people my money but they are very clever nonetheless.
Instant Chemistry Team / September 21, 2013 at 02:49 am
Dear Michael,

Thank you for your message. We acknowledge that we did not put the references in the research section. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused. We have attached an abbreviated list of selected peer-reviewed scientific studies which may be of interest. We appreciate your feedback and to prevent any further confusion we will be adding a link of these references to our website.

The Instant Chemistry Team

Selected Scientific Publications:

[1] R. Laurent, B. Toupance, R. Chaix, Non-random mate choice in humans: insights from a genome scan. Mol Ecol. 21 (2012) 587-596.

[2] R. Laurent, R. Chaix, MHC-dependent mate choice in humans: why genomic patterns from the HapMap European American dataset support the hypothesis. Bioessays. 34 (2012) 267-271.

[3] R. Laurent, R. Chaix, HapMap European American genotypes are compatible with the hypothesis of MHC-dependent mate choice (response to DOI 10.1002/bies.201200023, Derti and Roth). Bioessays. 34 (2012) 871-872.

[4] R. Chaix, C. Cao, P. Donnelly, Is mate choice in humans MHC-dependent? PLoS Genet. 4 (2008) e1000184.

[5] C.E. Garver-Apgar, S.W. Gangestad, R. Thornhill, R.D. Miller, J.J. Olp, Major histocompatibility complex alleles, sexual responsivity, and unfaithfulness in romantic couples. Psychol Sci. 17 (2006) 830-835.

[6] P.S. Santos, J.A. Schinemann, J. Gabardo, G. Bicalho Mda, New evidence that the MHC influences odor perception in humans: a study with 58 Southern Brazilian students. Horm Behav. 47 (2005) 384-388.

[7] H. Beydoun, A.F. Saftlas, Association of human leucocyte antigen sharing with recurrent spontaneous abortions. Tissue Antigens. 65 (2005) 123-135.

[8] S.W. Gangestad, J.A. Simpson, A.J. Cousins, C.E. Garver-Apgar, P.N. Christensen, Women's preferences for male behavioral displays change across the menstrual cycle. Psychol Sci. 15 (2004) 203-207.

[9] R. Thornhill, S.W. Gangestad, R. Miller, G. Scheyd, J.K. McCollough, M. Franklina, Major Histocompatibility complex genes, symmetry, and body scent attractiveness in men and women. Behavioral Ecology. 14 (2003) 668-678.

[10] S. Jacob, M.K. McClintock, B. Zelano, C. Ober, Paternally inherited HLA alleles are associated with women's choice of male odor. Nat Genet. 30 (2002) 175-179.

[11] C. Wedekind, D. Penn, MHC genes, body odours, and odour preferences. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 15 (2000) 1269-1271.

[12] D. Penn, W. Potts, How do major histocompatibility complex genes influence odor and mating preferences? Adv Immunol. 69 (1998) 411-436.

[13] C. Ober, T. Hyslop, S. Elias, L.R. Weitkamp, W.W. Hauck, Human leukocyte antigen matching and fetal loss: results of a 10 year prospective study. Hum Reprod. 13 (1998) 33-38.

[14] C. Ober, L.R. Weitkamp, N. Cox, H. Dytch, D. Kostyu, S. Elias, HLA and mate choice in humans. Am J Hum Genet. 61 (1997) 497-504.

[15] C. Wedekind, T. Seebeck, F. Bettens, A.J. Paepke, MHC-dependent mate preferences in humans. Proc Biol Sci. 260 (1995) 245-249.

[16] C. Wedekind, Mate choice and maternal selection for specific parasite resistances before; during and after fertilization. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 346 (1994) 303-311.

[17] M.F. Reznikoff-Etievant, J.C. Bonneau, D. Alcalay, B. Cavelier, C. Toure, R. Lobet, et al., HLA antigen-sharing in couples with repeated spontaneous abortions and the birthweight of babies in successful pregnancies. Am J Reprod Immunol. 25 (1991) 25-27.

[18] C.L. Ober, A.O. Martin, J.L. Simpson, W.W. Hauck, D.B. Amos, D.D. Kostyu, et al., Shared HLA antigens and reproductive performance among Hutterites. Am J Hum Genet. 35 (1983) 994-1004.
Jen Li / September 21, 2013 at 11:05 am
Biologically we seek a mate with a pronouncingly different DNA to maximize our genetic potential. I'd be interested to see the outcome and testimonials.
Jen li is a troll / September 23, 2013 at 03:00 am
This is such a naive understanding of human relationships. I really feel for the investors suckered into giving up their hard earn cash because they believe in these charlatans. As for the biology educated individuals of this startup being smart: they are not. For if they were truely smart they wouldnt be developing a simple testing system to match and test for HLA, they would be creating diagnostic tools for things that matter and are significant, which HLA and genetic compatability in human relationships hardly matters anymore than what is already expressed in the living being. After all what keeps a relationship going in hard times isnt their genes, but the relationship they have.
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