Researchers in the USA have found that a person’s ethnic background and genes could affect the way that they respond to the flu vaccine.
The study, published in the journal, Scientific Reports, analysed the genetics and ethnic background of a group of people who had received the flu vaccine.
When analysing the genetics of this group, scientists focused on a gene that plays a key role in the immunisation process by instructing the body to respond to infections.
There are 14 slightly different versions of this particular gene, and each person has two of them – one inherited from each of their parents. Some versions of this gene are better at fighting the flu virus than others.
As part of the research, scientists did tests on blood samples from people who had been given the flu vaccine. They found that each person’s immune response depended upon their version of the gene.
The researchers also looked at data on the distribution of this gene among different broad ethnic groups, and found that there was a lot of variation between African, Asian and European people in terms of which version of the gene they carried.
Based on these findings, the researchers recommend that further work is carried out to pinpoint where in the world each different version of the gene is more common. This, they say, could help to predict how effective a vaccine will be among individuals and communities.
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