The idea of using the immune system to help the body fight disease has been in existence for some time; vaccines, which allow the body to remember disease-causing pathogens, provide an excellent example. There are many diseases, though, in which the desired outcome is not to enhance the immune system, but to suppress its unwanted effects. Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, for instance, are autoimmune diseases in which the immune system erroneously attacks the body. Chronic inflammation, connected with wound trauma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative disease, is another example of immune-system overreaction. The idea of using innate immunity to either enhance or suppress overall immunity is a new avenue by which we can have profound impact on improving human health.
In striving to understand the innate immune system, the CIIID’s ultimate goal is to regulate overall immune response to distinct disease processes, thus using the power of immunity to improve human health. In doing so, we will improve the body’s ability to fight pathogens and to control the immune response when it goes off track — and we will change medicine forever.