Nature Reviews Microbiology 2, 497-504 (June 2004) | doi:10.1038/nrmicro908

OpinionCan innate immunity be enhanced to treat microbial infections?

B. Brett Finlay1 & Robert E. W. Hancock1  About the authors


Innate immunity is a highly effective set of conserved mechanisms used by multicellular organisms to recognize and counter the constant threat of microbial infections. There is evidence to indicate that innate responses are key to controlling most infections, as well as contributing to inflammatory responses that are central components of disease. In addition to Toll-like-receptor-mediated effects, many other mechanisms are used to recognize and respond to microbial threats. Natural molecules such as CpG DNA and small cationic peptides trigger innate responses that help to control infection. This indicates there is potential to utilize such compounds to activate or enhance innate responses as antimicrobials. Harnessing this activity, without associated harmful inflammatory responses, is the main challenge.

Author affiliations

  1. B. Brett Finlay and Robert E. W. Hancock are at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z3, Canada.

Correspondence to: B. Brett Finlay1 Email:


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