Ever asked yourself if you would be more susceptible to the coronavirus or other infectious diseases that affect your immune system?
Genetic testing can assist in telling your immune system’s story.
Your DNA can play a large role in whether you are prone to getting sick as well as if you are at risk for a cytokine storm.
With new variants always on the rise and the current variant detected by scientists in South Africa, it is common to feel slightly anxious. One of the key approaches you can take in these ever-changing and unpredictable times, is to boost your immune system so if you do come into contact with Covid, you are armed to fight it.
Researchers and scientists have been studied the link between an individual’s DNA and their viral immunity. Everyone has genetic variations which have been passed through generations all of which have lived through some form of infectious diseases. All these genetic variations from past generations are currently written in your DNA which can give you key insight as to how your body could respond when falling ill.
How do infections work?
Viruses must penetrate a cellular organism to reproduce. They infect your cells and use your cellular processes to replicate themselves. After replication, they spread to other cells, causing more replication and cell death. Your body has multiple ways of defending itself against viral or bacterial invaders. Just like the military has multiple branches, such as the army, navy, and air force, and specialized teams within those branches, your immune system has several ways of detecting, isolating, defending, and killing against pathogens.
For viral infections, interferons are the first line of protectors. Interferons produce a kind of firewall around the cell that contains the virus/es. White blood cells produce cytokines to act against viruses and alert the immune system to attack the invaders.
Genes are the blueprint that code the different parts of the immune system. You have genes that code to act as receptors of the virus, to detect them, activating the production of cytokines to destroy them, and more. Genetic variants can cause differences in how any single part of the immune system works. Some people are genetically more able to easily fight off certain pathogens while others are more susceptible to them.
For example, if you have an overactive immune response (meaning your immune genes are switched on all the time), you are likely more susceptible to becoming ill, or for the particular virus to manifest. However, also bear in mind that it may be the same genetic variant that helped an ancient ancestor to survive a leprosy outbreak in a previous generation.
It is way too soon to know which genetic variants protect against the coronavirus. However, you can test your DNA’s particular makeup that is driving your immune system. South African genetic testing company Geneway tests for thirty SNP’s (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) that determine your immunity to certain conditions.
There are certain genetic variants that protect against the flu. Influenza – the flu – can be caused by several different strains of the (flu) virus. Interestingly, studies show that most people exposed to a new flu strain don’t get the flu – they remain asymptomatic. Certain genes put people at risk of joint issues, however, that same gene protects people against getting the flu. At the same time, there is a gene that determines an increased risk of complications related to the flu, while other genes play important roles in the development of adaptive immune responses. In this case, the person’s adaptive immune response is much slower to respond to threats and infections.
The body’s DNA also has specific genes that determine whether bacteria can bind itself to dead cells, marking them to be cleared away by the immune system, and other genes associated with an increase in chronic inflammation and in combination, with other genes, make the person more vulnerable when exposed to certain viruses.
Our immune system’s response varies over the course of 24-hours. At certain times, we may be more resilient to fighting off viruses and at other times of the day, we may be more susceptible to pathogens. Sleep is vital for your body’s immune function the next day. There is an innate circadian rhythm to the production of macrophages (white blood cells), B-cells, and T-cells. This innate circadian rhythm is also determined by genetic variants. Additionally, genetic markers determine the body’s cortisol sensitivity and melatonin production, both of which are critical to the immune system.
The Geneway DNA test tests for thirty genetic markers that help decode each person’s genetic make-up regarding their immune system. To find an accredited Geneway healthcare practitioner, or for more information, visit www.geneway.co.za