The Innate Immune Response

The innate immune response is the first line of defense against invading microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. When cells are infected with a virus they produce a potent anti-viral compound called “interferon” that inhibits virus multiplication and also alerts other cells to defend themselves from being infected with the virus. Most importantly, it was found that this protection was not limited to a single species of virus but would afford protection against all species of viruses.

Human interferons are classified into three major types: Interferon type I which includes IFN-α; IFN-β; IFN-ε; IFN-κ; and IFN-ω; Interferon type II which includes IFN-γ; and Interferon type III. In general when there is a virus infection the innate immune system responds by producing type I interferons which have potent anti-viral properties, and also cyokines that can up-regulate IFN dependent genes in other cells to produce more anti-viral compounds.

The innate immune response is triggered by certain characteristic microbial molecular signatures binding to specific pattern-recognition receptors (PRR) present on the surface of a cell or within the endosome of the cell. These receptors are found in various cell types including natural killer cells, T and B lymphocytes, epithelial cells, fibroblasts, mononuclear cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells. In particular it was discovered that a subset of dendritic cells called plasmacytoid dendritic cells could be stimulated to produce large amounts of type I interferon.

The microbial pattern recognition receptors are named “Toll-Like Receptors” (TLR) because of their similarity to the Toll receptor discovered in the fruit-fly Drosophila. There are 10 TLRs that have been identified to date in humans and each TLR is stimulated to respond to its own characteristic microbial pattern trigger. This invention teaches that there are certain TLRs that produce type I interferon in response to viral infection. There are two groups of viruses: RNA viruses and DNA viruses. The innate immune system is preprogrammed to respond to viral RNA or DNA and produce type I interferons and various cytokines. It was discovered that the viral RNA and DNA could be replaced with synthetic analogs that could elicit the production of interferon.

The UNIVAXX vaccine uses a combination of immunostimulatory compounds incorporated in liposomes. The vaccine can be prepared beforehand and can be immediately sent to the site of a viral outbreak and used to prevent the outbreak from spreading and becoming a pandemic.  This capacity to immediately respond to a viral outbreak is critical to limiting the spread of viral infection. Any delay in quarantining the area of infection and vaccinating those exposed to the virus will allow the virus time to escape and become a pandemic.