We are all biologically programmed to know if we are compatible with somebody or not, this is one of our instincts. Our bodies are informed and respond to
information received from our senses when we meet in person.
DNA Romance started with the knowledge that DNA can influence relationships. The technical founder, Dr. Timothy Sexton (Tim) holds a Ph.D.
in population genetics, and a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and molecular biology. This education has provided him with a good understanding
of how genes work, how the genes adapt to different selection pressures, and how this shapes the evolution across populations of other individuals.
In 2012, he met Judith Bosire online and they started dating; Judith was coming from a business background, which complemented Tim's education in genetics.
They had met using an online dating site, and a discussion arose from them comparing their experiences using online dating apps. They agreed that a major frustration
about using “online dating platforms” was the mismatching, especially for “chemistry”. When you meet in-person, you know right away if you have “chemistry” or
not. But, when you are online, it’s impossible to evaluate if you share “chemistry” with someone, you can only detect “chemistry” when you meet in person.
Both Judith and Tim had horror stories of online mismatches, suitors that seemed promising until the first date, when it was instantly and mutually
realized that there was no chemistry. This gut feeling of “chemistry” is your body’s natural radar to detect a person who is genetically compatible
with you. Tim explained the so-called "sweaty T-shirt experiments," which proved a definitive link between DNA and romantic attraction. In the first
experiment by Prof. Claus Wedekind in 1995 where 49 female students and 44 male students were recruited. The men were asked to wear the same
T-shirt for two nights (Wedekind et al., 1995). The female participants were asked to smell each shirt and describe how pleasant they smelled on a
scale of 1 to 10. The results showed that women found male body odour pleasant when the male participants were far more genetically different at a
specific set of genes called the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). In contrast, the women found male body odors to be unpleasant when
the male participants were genetically similar at the MHC genes. Independent research has continued to validate these findings.
These genes didn’t only play a role in human attraction. Previously, these same genes had been shown to play a key role in “mate pairing”
in other vertebrates, including primates and birds that partnered for life.
The founders' discussion about the basis of “romantic chemistry” was truly fascinating; there were several hypotheses that could explain why we
like the scent and share “chemistry” with people who have different MHC genes. After all, these genes encode MHC peptides, which cover the surface
of your cells and are critical for your body’s recognition and response to foreign pathogens. We are attracted to people who are different at these
genes, because the success of the human population depends on this mechanism to maintain diversity at immune system genes. This ensures that some
individuals are resistant to new pathogens, and no cold or flu virus would wipe us out. In addition, if Mum and Dad have different immune systems,
they won't always get sick from the same illnesses and can look after each other.
Judith asked, "Why isn't this DNA information being used for online dating?"" Tim knew he had the skills to build “DNA Romance” and he pictured this as something easy to do,
especially with a business-minded partner. Together, they took on the challenge to start DNA Romance, and in 2014, they incorporated the company. In 2016, Tim quit his job
to begin working on DNA Romance full time, and a year later, in September 2017, they launched DNA Romance to the public.