Monday, November 20, 2000
Cytosine-guanine dinucleotides linked through a phosphate backbone
have been shown to activate both innate and acquired immune responses. Although
CpGs are rarely found in human DNA, they are common in bacterial DNA, and the
human immune system recognizes CpGs as an early sign of infection and responds
with a powerful immune response. Coley Pharmaceutical Group Inc. believes it
can harness this action to treat various diseases, including cancer, allergy
and asthma, and infectious diseases, without causing side effects associated
with other immunostimulatory agents.
The technology was first identified by Arthur Krieg, professor
of medicine at the University of Iowa, who published a paper in Nature, showing
that CpGs cause B cells to proliferate and produce certain cytokines. Previously
oligonucleotides were not considered to be immunostimulatory. Krieg concluded
that there was a possible evolutionary link between vertebrate immune defense
mechanisms and the recognition of microbial DNA containing CpGs.