We’re not all equal in the face of the coronavirus

Are there differences in immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus between populations from different geographic regions? Part of the answer to this question is to be found in the genomes of these groups of people and, more specifically, in the HLA genes responsible for the adaptive immune system. These genes are special in that they often differ between individuals. Thousands of possible variants (or alleles) have been identified, and not all of them are equally effective in fighting a new virus. The frequency of these alleles varies from one population to another due to past migrations and their adaptation to different environments. Alicia Sanchez-Mazas group,  – working in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute in Jena (Germany) and the University of Adelaide (Australia) – has pinpointed the HLA variants that are potentially the most effective against seven viruses, including the new coronavirus. They have also brought to light significant differences between populations.

This article was published in HLA on May 31st, 2020.

Press release from UNIGE.

 

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