Saturday, September 20, 2008

Looking for that 'perfect match' ?

I came across two really really interesting sites. What they promise to do is - ensure that you date/mate/marry with the one you share a perfect chemistry with; literally. ScientificMatch and GenePartner are two companies which study DNA samples of human beings to tell whether or not they suit each other genetically. In short, its a DNA based dating service ;) After you sign up for their services, you have to mail them a DNA sample(saliva) using the kit which send you. They analyse the DNA, and suggest biologically suitable matches for you.
I did not go through all the documentation they have provided however, the benefits they (scientificmatch) have mentioned on the homepage look a bit exaggerated to me. I am no expert on biotechnology, but to say that(verbatim) 'There will be less cheating in your exclusive relationship' is IMHO a bit too much . In humans, the second level replicators (memes) are far more dominant than the first (genes). IMO, culture, social background, upbringing, religion, friend-circle, occupation etc play a very important role in determining whether or not an individual will cheat. I think, there might be only theoretical truth in some of their claims.

The rising of such services and others like 23andMe* establishes one thing for sure - research and discovery in the fields like genomics and neuroscience may change our lives in unprecedented ways. Will our lives become more artificially/scientifically controlled ? Today, in many countries couples check for astrological compatibility before marrying. With the advance of genetic science, will marriages be cancelled because histocompatibility complexes are incompatible ? Maybe yes. Going further ahead, will parents will get to 'customize' their (yet to be born) babies ? Like, 'Please replace this allele, so that the eye colour is nothing else but blue'. And, to imagine the extreme - there might come a law stating something like 'a child bore by a couple will legally be considered as their child if, more than 50% of his genes come from the couple's gene pool'. Such a law would be necessary because people will have the capability to modify and substitute genes to a large extent and, that might possibly lead to biological identity litigations.
On the other hand, such immense advancement in biotechnology will probably get rid of many fatal and non-fatal hereditary ailments. Stem cell research will be a boon if we could regenerate organs.
Lets see what happens.Only time can tell..

*23andMe is a startup funded by Google amongst others. One wonders, how come Google invested in a biotech company ? Its probably because, the company is co-founded by none other than Mrs. Sergey Brin :)

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