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What are interferons?

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Interferons are proteins that are part of your natural defenses. They tell your immune system that germs or cancer cells are in your body. And they trigger killer immune cells to fight those invaders.

Interferons got their name because they "interfere" with viruses and keep them from multiplying.

In 1986, the first lab-made interferon was created to treat certain types of cancer. It was one of the earliest treatments to work with your immune system to fight illness and was later approved as a treatment for several other conditions, including hepatitis and multiple sclerosis.

From: Your Guide to Interferons WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

Cancer Research UK: "Interferon (Intron A)," "Side Effects of Interferon (Intron A)."

Clinical and Experimental Hepatology: "Recommendations for the treatment of hepatitis C in 2017."

Clinical Cancer Research : "Direct effects of type I interferons on cells of the immune system."

FDA: "Medication Guide: Roferon-A," "Product information: Intron A."

HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee: "Gene Family: Interferons (IFN)."

Journal of Biological Chemistry : "The interferons: 50 years after their discovery, there is much more to learn."

Journal of Interferon and Cytokine Research : "How type I interferons work in multiple sclerosis and other diseases: Some unexpected mechanisms."

Mayo Clinic: "Interferon Alfa-2B (Injection Route)," "Interferon Beta-1a (Intramuscular route, subcutaneous route)," "Interferon Beta-1b (Subcutaneous route)," "Interferon Gamma (Injection route, subcutaneous route)."

Medscape: "Interferon alfa 2b (Rx)," "Interferon alfa n3 (Rx)," "Update on hepatitis C treatment."

Microbiology and Immunology Online: "Interferon."

MS Society: "Beta interferons."

National MS Society: "Plegridy."

New England Journal of Medicine : "Interferon: The Science and Selling of a Miracle Drug."

Protein Data Bank: "Interferons."

U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Peginterferon Alfa-2a Injection," "Peginterferon Alfa 2-b (PEG-Intron)."

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario on June 11, 2018

SOURCES:

Cancer Research UK: "Interferon (Intron A)," "Side Effects of Interferon (Intron A)."

Clinical and Experimental Hepatology: "Recommendations for the treatment of hepatitis C in 2017."

Clinical Cancer Research : "Direct effects of type I interferons on cells of the immune system."

FDA: "Medication Guide: Roferon-A," "Product information: Intron A."

HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee: "Gene Family: Interferons (IFN)."

Journal of Biological Chemistry : "The interferons: 50 years after their discovery, there is much more to learn."

Journal of Interferon and Cytokine Research : "How type I interferons work in multiple sclerosis and other diseases: Some unexpected mechanisms."

Mayo Clinic: "Interferon Alfa-2B (Injection Route)," "Interferon Beta-1a (Intramuscular route, subcutaneous route)," "Interferon Beta-1b (Subcutaneous route)," "Interferon Gamma (Injection route, subcutaneous route)."

Medscape: "Interferon alfa 2b (Rx)," "Interferon alfa n3 (Rx)," "Update on hepatitis C treatment."

Microbiology and Immunology Online: "Interferon."

MS Society: "Beta interferons."

National MS Society: "Plegridy."

New England Journal of Medicine : "Interferon: The Science and Selling of a Miracle Drug."

Protein Data Bank: "Interferons."

U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Peginterferon Alfa-2a Injection," "Peginterferon Alfa 2-b (PEG-Intron)."

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario on June 11, 2018

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What are three main types of interferons?

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