George Church is an American geneticist, molecular engineer, and chemist working for Harvard University. He is famous for working on projects like resurrecting the woolly mammoth, reversing human aging, and mutating genes that could give people superhuman powers.
His latest plan is to create a dating app that pairs people based on the probability of not passing genetic diseases along to their offspring. Genetic inheritance occurs due to genetic material in the form of DNA being passed on from parents to their children.
Genes can be either dominant or recessive, so when one parent has a dominant gene for a trait and the other has a recessive gene for the same trait, the dominant one is more likely to show up in their offspring. A few genetic diseases and conditions, like sickle cell anemia, are caused by recessive genes.
Usually, a person carries about 20 such recessive genes, but normally they don’t even realize it because they also inherited a “healthy” dominant gene from their parents that overshadows the recessive one.
So if a carrier of a disease-causing recessive gene procreates with someone who also carries the same recessive gene, their baby has a 25 percent chance of suffering from the disease. This is one of the situations George Church hopes to avoid. In order for this to work, everyone would have to get their genome sequenced and the correct matches made, so that all of these diseases can be eliminated.
Still, two carriers of a recessive gene for a disease can still have a healthy child, and surely some partners would be happy to risk it in the name of love.
After all, this type matchmaking is a bit… clinical.