PerspectiveTranslational Genomics

Targeting the host immune response to fight infection

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Science  23 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6186, pp. 807-808
DOI: 10.1126/science.1255074

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Every year, infectious diseases kill millions of people worldwide. A close look at the modes of death from infection reveals something surprising: Often death is not attributable to a direct effect of the pathogen or of any toxin it produces; rather, it is the consequence of a systemic inflammatory response in the host (1). Our own immune system destroys us. This concept was observed long ago, but efforts to find effective therapies that alter the host response to infection to promote survival have largely failed.