Special Report

We Know Your Genes Can Influence Your Health, But Can They Also Influence Who You Love?

The same genes that dictate whether or not you can accept an organ transplant may guide your choice in a romantic partner

Some scientists think that our compatibility genes—the same genes that determine whether an organ transplant will take—play a role in sexual attraction. (© Great Stock/Corbis)

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On a practical level, readers can get genetic tests to know about the diseases they are susceptible or resistant to, or to know who they may be compatible with for partnerships or pregnancy. Such decisions are personal, and I'm not directly advising anyone what to do, rather my book explains all these ideas in depth, so that each person can make an informed decision. Just one example: Given that we each respond slightly differently to any particular disease, it can be expected that we also respond slightly differently to any given medicine. In the near future, the choice of drugs we are given for treatments may well be tailored to match our genes. Already now, there is evidence that the side effects of some drugs can be avoided if people with certain genes are not given those drugs.

What questions are left unanswered?

The urgent debate, in universities and pharmaceutical companies alike, is in how to get the best out of the knowledge we’ve accumulated. How do we translate revelations in our understanding of genetics and disease into actual medical benefit?


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