The immune system as drug target

Darren R. Flower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The immune system is perhaps the largest yet most diffuse and distributed somatic system in vertebrates. It plays vital roles in fighting infection and in the homeostatic control of chronic disease. As such, the immune system in both pathological and healthy states is a prime target for therapeutic interventions by drugs-both small-molecule and biologic. Comprising both the innate and adaptive immune systems, human immunity is awash with potential unexploited molecular targets. Key examples include the pattern recognition receptors of the innate immune system and the major histocompatibility complex of the adaptive immune system. Moreover, the immune system is also the source of many current and, hopefully, future drugs, of which the prime example is the monoclonal antibody, the most exciting and profitable type of present-day drug moiety. This brief review explores the identity and synergies of the hierarchy of drug targets represented by the human immune system, with particular emphasis on the emerging paradigm of systems pharmacology.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
JournalImmunology and Immunogenetics Insights
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2013

Bibliographical note

© the authors, publisher and licensee Libertas Academica Limited. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons
CC -BY-NC 3.0 License.


  • adjuvants
  • antibody
  • biologic drug
  • drug design
  • immune system
  • major histocompatibility complex
  • natural products


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