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Houston-based dating app uses DNA to find your match

Pheramor started in Houston, but has now expanded nationwide.

HOUSTON — When you’re swiping left and right on dating apps, what are you looking for? A great smile? Kind eyes? Maybe a sense of humor? It turns out, finding your real match is about more than meets the eye.

“Pheramor is a science-based dating app,” says Dr. Brittany Barreto, the company’s CEO and founder. “We use DNA and digital data to measure compatibility between singles.”

The process on the user’s end is pretty simple. You sign up through the app and order a DNA kit. After a quick swab of your inner cheek, you drop it back in the mail.

“When Pheramor receives your swab back, we send it to our laboratory, where they isolate your cheek cells and take out the DNA. From the DNA, we sequence your human leukocyte antigen genes, or HLA genes. This is what predicts attraction,” Dr. Barreto explains. “These genes encode proteins for your immune system. Scientists have shown in dozens of publications that people are attracted to one another when their HLA genes are different. That’s right! ‘Opposites attract’ is biologically true.”

There’s been a lot of talk about DNA tests and where that information ends up. Pheramor does not sell your data.

“We only sequence 11 genes related with physical attraction, so we don’t know about data like diseases, eye color or ancestry,” says Dr. Bin Huang, Pheramor co-founder and chief technology officer.

The app does give you the opportunity to share your data with non-profit organizations, such as Gift of Life, if you so choose.

“You can use Pheramor to find love, but also to fight cancer,” Dr. Huang adds.

Once the results are in, the app sends you three potential matches each day. 

The app initially launched in Houston, but it's now expanded nationwide. And get this: Pheramor users have more second dates than people on those other apps!

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