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Karmagenes is partnering with British apartment-sharing service SpareRoom to offer a free DNA test to would-be roomies.

Nigel Davies

Are you interested in knowing whether your new potential roommate is genetically predisposed to all-night partying or all-night studying? A company in the Switzerland is promising a simple saliva swab could provide you with a genetically compatible roommate. The privacy, equity, legal and social downsides are left for users to ponder.

The idea that DNA can predict anything about personality is still very contested science: Despite decades of hype much of the research has proven difficult to replicate and the most promising predictive data comes mainly from studies of twins. But that hasn't stopped Kyriakos Kokkoris, co-founder of Geneva-based Karmagenes from claiming to the Financial Times in 2015 that his DNA test can provide a profile built on 14 such personality traits as spontaneity, risk-taking, confidence and self-awareness. "You can cheat a theoretical personality test by how you answer the questions, but you can't cheat your DNA," he told the paper. In an e-mailed statement to The Globe and Mail Mr. Kokkoris contended that 65 per cent of personality is influenced by DNA, citing a twin study in the journal Nature from 2002.

Mr. Kokkoris has previously marketed his test kit for such uses as DNA-based dating, but now is partnering with, a British apartment-sharing service, to offer a free test to would-be roomies. The Spareroom blog post announcing the idea is subheaded "Genetically matched roommates, WTF?"

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"We want to help our users have the happiest experiences of sharing they possibly can, so we're trialing DNA kits to see if we can bring a little science to bear on the process," Matt Hutchinson, communications director at SpareRoom, said in a statement.

Is it really so hard to rent a flat in London that it's worth handing over your DNA profile to some strangers? Data from the mayor of London's office shows that rents in the British capital have been growing more slowly in recent years ("Annual private rent increases in London have been below annual wage increases for more than a year"), but of course it does remain almost twice as expensive as every other rental market in the country.

Social-media reaction to the idea of submitting a DNA test to a potential roommate was measured and reasonable, including such tweets as: "My siblings shared a lot of my DNA and we were terrible roommates for like, eighteen years" and "F#$* everything about this service."

This large four-bedroom detached house in Toronto that backs onto a ravine sold for $302,000 over the asking price.
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