Scientists claim that the new test can predict a person's sexuality with up to 70% accuracy.
Scientists claim that a new test can predict men’s sexual orientation.
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Tuck C. Ngun, a PhD researcher at University of California, Los Angeles has developed a test that can predict a person’s sexuality with up to 70% accuracy. The findings were presented in the Annual meeting of American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) but other scientists are not sure whether it actually works.
The test uses epigenetic information from DNA and identifies whether a man is heterosexual or homosexual. Ngun claims that “To our knowledge, this is the first example of a predictive model for sexual orientation based on molecular markers.”
For the study, around 50 pairs of identical male twins were recruited. 37 pairs of brothers had one heterosexual and one homosexual brother while 10 pairs had both brothers with homosexual orientation.
Researchers took saliva samples from each of the participants to find out any difference between the homosexual and heterosexual twins. Since identical twins have exactly the same genetic sequence, researchers accounted the patterns of DNA methylation as well. DNA methylation is a molecular modification in DNA which controls gene expression and is triggered by the environmental factors.
“A challenge was that because we studied twins, their DNA methylation patterns were highly correlated,” said Ngun. Even after some initial analysis, the researchers were left with our 400,000 data points to sort through.
“The high correlation and large data set made it difficult to identify differences between twins, determine which ones were relevant to sexual orientation, and determine which of those could be used predictively.”
To sort out the massive data, Ngun and his colleagues developed a procedure or algorithm called FuzzyForest, and found that methylation patterns in nine small regions, scattered across the genome, could predict participants’ sexual orientation with great precision.
“Previous studies had identified broader regions of chromosomes that were involved in sexual orientation, but we were able to define these areas down to the base pair level with our approach,” said Ngun.
“Sexual attraction is such a fundamental part of life, but it’s not something we know a lot about at the genetic and molecular level. I hope that this research helps us understand ourselves better and why we are the way we are.”
Ngun also believes that further research is required to explain why methylation patters in some regions of genome determine sexual orientation. The researchers are currently testing the algorithm’s accuracy in a more general population.
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