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New app uses your DNA to help find true love

Developers of a new phone app use science to help users find true love (Tom Merton/Getty Images)

Your DNA can help you find true love, according to the developers of a new dating app called Pheramor.

The app finds your perfect match by using the science of genetics. Users are given a Pheramor kit to submit a DNA sample from a simple cheek swab. The DNA sample is used to isolate and scan 11 genes that scientists link to "factors for attraction," according to the Houston Chronicle.

"Scientists can actually predict who's attracted to whom," geneticist and app developer Brittany Barreto told the Chronicle. "It has to do with your pheromones."

In addition to the DNA sample, Pheramor builds a profile from social media accounts, taking into account such things as political affiliations and favorite books, movies, and hobbies.

Developers say that pulling information from social media accounts can side-step some of the self-bias (or embellishment) that happens when people fill out their dating profiles.

What is genetic-based attraction?

The science behind the app is based on pheromones, Barreto told the Chronicle. "[W]hen we smell pheromones, what we're actually smelling is how diverse someone's immune system is compared to our own."

"Evolution is very strong. So we're smelling each other, trying to figure out who is the best person to mate with," she added. "And that's what love at first sight actually is. It's smelling someone's pheromones from across the room, and your brain says, 'Oh my Gosh, that's the most perfect pheromone profile I've ever smelled in my entire life. I love them.'"

Who created this app?

Barreto, who holds a doctorate in genetics from the Baylor College of Medicine, attended an accelerator program for start-ups, where she presented the idea of a DNA-based dating app. There, she met the two other founders of Pheramor, according to the Houston Chronicle.

They are:

  • Asma Mirza, Duke University graduate who specializes in start-up "expansion and capacity-building- taking a project and scaling it."
  • Bin Huang, a doctoral candidate at Rice University, who is studying computational biology. Huang is developing the algorithm for the app.

What about privacy?

Developers say they won’t know what you look like, your ethnicity, or your disease status.

“All I know is the 11 genes for attractions, from which I'll know who you think is hot and who you won't like," Baretto told the Chronicle.

Why is this a big deal?

Dating apps are big business, representing a market worth about $2 billion, according to the Chronicle. More than 40 million Americans search for true love by using dating apps and websites.

The app has not yet officially launched. Developers are first trying to establish their DNA database. Pheramor’s target demographic is busy professionals between the ages of 18 and 44.

Pheremor needs about 3,000 members to create a viable sample before it launches in Houston, the Chronicle reported.

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