The insect immune response bears many striking structural and functional similarities to the innate immune response of mammals. This fact can, and has been, exploited by employing insects as models for studying microbial pathogens of mammals and in the evaluation of the antimicrobial potential of novel drugs. Results obtained using mammals can be extrapolated to those which might be obtained using mammals thus reducing the need to use as many mammals in such testing. While the efficacy of using insects in screening microbial mutants and testing drugs is now well established, another aspect of insect immunology deserves increased attention. The insect immune system is capable of dealing rapidly and effectively with microbial loads that would prove fatal to mammals which, in addition to having the innate immune response also have the of advantage of possessing an adaptive response. Consequently study of cellular and humoral elements of the insect immune response may provide us with insights into the functioning of our own innate immune system and offer increased understanding of how it functions without the need to take account of the adaptive immune system. This has the potential to inform us of new means to increase the efficacy of the innate immune system and help engineer it to better deal with microbial infections.

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