Do you really want to know how you and a significant other match up genetically? How concerned are you about learning ahead of time traits your offspring will likely express? If your answers to the previous questions are “Yes” and “Quite concerned,” check out HumanCode‘s BabyGlimpse. We’ve written in the past about using smartphones for DNA sequencing and about nanosensors used to target specific DNA locations. While there are myriad reasons to run DNA sequencing tests, the most common applications are for specific medical issue screening and diagnosis. HumanCode’s services for individuals, couples, and expecting parents focus on human characteristics rather than medical or health concerns.
HumanCode partners with Helix, a genetics lab that runs the DNA sequencing procedure using collected saliva samples. Helix provides a portion of the sequencing data to HumanCode. HumanCode process the DNA information with its purpose-specific algorithms. According to HumanCode, the algorithms cover more than 22 traits. Ancestry traits return information on five super populations and 25 regional populations. The algorithms report on physical traits including eye color, hair color and texture, and adult height. Wellness traits include lactose intolerance, peanut allergies, and sun sneeze reaction, as well as personality traits such as warrior versus strategist and sweet versus salty personality.
HumanCode’s process can provide interesting information an individual’s traits as revealed by their DNA. It’s also potentially useful when comparing two people’s traits. BabyGlimpse goes beyond eye color predictions and gives couples personalized insights into the probabilities that specific traits will be passed on to their offspring. HumanCode describes BabyGlimpse as a “fun and informational experience” and stresses that it is not a medical test. Helix stores individual’s DNA sequencing data, so theoretically one could collect saliva samples from any number of potential mates to look for compatibilities and to gain insight into potential offspring. It’s also important to remember that such testing is based on probability. Julia Roberts’ character may have told Richard Gere’s character in “Pretty Woman” that she was a “sure thing,” but predictions from DNA sequencing don’t work that way. When two people with similar outlier traits, such as extreme height or IQ, they may assume their kids would also be tall or have high IQs. However, the concept of “reversion to the mean” within a given population diminishes any such guarantees.