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[en] In the absence of low energy supersymmetry, we show that (a) the dark matter particle alone at the TeV scale can improve gauge coupling unification, raising the unification scale up to the lower bound imposed by proton decay, and (b) the dark matter stability can automatically follow from the grand unification symmetry. Within reasonably simple unified models, a unique candidate satisfying these two properties is singled out: a fermion isotriplet with zero hypercharge, member of a 45 (or larger) representation of SO(10). We discuss the phenomenological signatures of this TeV scale fermion, which can be tested in direct and indirect future dark matter searches. The proton decay rate into e+π0 is predicted close to the present bound.