ARTICLE | Tools & Techniques

The toll collectors

August 15, 2005 7:00 AM UTC

Immune modulation should be a subtle activity, as the name implies. But existing immunomodulatory drugs are like using a sledgehammer to hit a tack, and the side effects of drugs like interferon alpha and IL-2 are notorious.

Most of these therapies have focused on activating the adaptive portion of the immune system, rather than the innate immune system, about which far less is known. But that is changing, as scientists have identified triggers of the relatively primitive innate immune system. In the last few years, a number of immunomodulatory targets have been identified, among them the toll-like receptors, which recognize pathogen components and trigger innate immune responses that in turn activate the adaptive system...