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Infectious Disease

Innate immunity is the body’s first line of defense against infectious disease. 

How well an individual’s innate immune system responds to infectious disease can greatly impact recovery from the disease.

Infectious diseases are disorders caused by microbes such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites. Our bodies contain many microbes that are harmless, or in some cases, beneficial.  Infectious diseases are caused by pathogenic microbes that cause a person to become ill and can be transmitted from person-to-person, animals, insects, or from exposure to the microbes in the environment or in contaminated food and water.  Some infectious diseases cause only mild symptoms, like the rhinoviruses that cause colds, while others such as Malaria, tuberculosis, influenza A virus, and West Nile virus, can cause severe symptoms that can lead to hospitalization or death. 

A strong, functional innate immune response to infectious disease can induce the body to effectively combat the pathogenic microbes by attacking them early and preventing them to spread throughout the body as well as develop long-term adaptive immune responses that can effectively combat the microbes and prevent them from re-establishing themselves when someone is exposed to the microbes again.  Vaccines have been developed by the medical community to prevent infectious diseases such as the measles, whooping cough, and polio virus from causing illness.  Vaccines work to protect the body by triggering an innate immune response that teaches the immune system to recognize the microbes and fight them off quickly if they are exposed to the pathogenic microbes.

Researchers in the CIIID are working to understand how microbes activate and regulate, as well as evade the innate immune system.  By understanding how these processes work, CIIID investigators use this information to develop new approaches for therapeutics and vaccines that specifically target the innate immune processes in the body for disease resolution.