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Cell Microbiol. 2003 Nov;5(11):755-60.

Innate immunity and biodefence vaccines.

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Vaccines Research, Chiron Corporation, 4560 Horton St, Emeryville, CA 94608, USA.


Host defence in vertebrates is achieved by the integration of two distinct arms of the immune system: the innate and adaptive responses. The innate response acts early after infection (within minutes), detecting and responding to broad cues from invading pathogens. The adaptive response takes time (days to weeks) to become effective, but provides the fine antigenic specificity required for complete elimination of the pathogen and the generation of immunologic memory. Antigen-independent recognition of pathogens by the innate immune system leads to the rapid mobilization of immune effector and regulatory mechanisms that provide the host with three critical advantages: (i) initiating the immune response (both innate and adaptive) and providing the inflammatory and co-stimulatory context for antigen recognition; (ii) mounting a first line of defence, thereby holding the pathogen in check during the maturation of the adaptive response; and (iii) steering the adaptive immune system towards the cellular or humoral responses most effective against the particular infectious agent. The quest for safer and more effective vaccines and immune-based therapies has taken on a sudden urgency with the increased threat of bioterrorism. Only a handful of vaccines covering a small proportion of potential biowarfare agents are available for human use (e.g. anthrax and small pox) and these suffer from poor safety profiles. Therefore, next generation biodefence-related vaccines and therapies with improved safety and the capacity to induce more rapid, more potent and broader protection are needed. To this end, strategies to target both the innate and adaptive immune systems will be required.

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