An immune system is a collection of mechanisms within an organism that protects against disease by identifying and killing pathogens and tumor cells. It detects a wide variety of agents, from viruses to parasitic worms, and needs to distinguish them from the organism’s own healthy cells and tissues in order to function properly.
Now researchers have found the behaviour of immune system genes varies from race to race – potentially affecting how they respond to infection. The Chicago University team looked at over 9,000 genes in 180 people, half Caucasian and half from Nigeria. They found differences between the two races in 5% of key genes. The American Journal of Human Genetics study may help explain why some groups are more vulnerable to disease, and aid development of more tailored treatment.