The discovery of endosomal TLRs (Toll-like receptors) and their natural ligands has accelerated efforts to exploit them for therapeutic benefit. Importantly, this was preceded by clinical exploration of agents now known to be endosomal TLR agonists. Clinical effects in viral disease have been reported with agonists of TLR3, TLR7, TLR7/8 and TLR9, and the TLR7 agonist imiquimod is marketed for topical use against warts, a papillomavirus disease. The observed pre-clinical and clinical profiles of agonists of each of these TLRs suggest induction of a multifaceted innate immune response, with biomarker signatures indicative of type 1 interferon induction. However, these agents differ in both their pharmaceutical characteristics and the cellular distribution of their target TLRs, suggesting that drugs directed to these targets will display differences in their overall pharmacological profiles.

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