What are interferons and how do they work?
Interferons are a family of naturally-occurring proteins that are made and secreted by cells of the immune system (for example, white blood cells, natural killer cells, fibroblasts, and epithelial cells). Three classes of interferons have been identified:
- beta, and
Each class has many effects, though their effects overlap. Commercially available interferons are human interferons manufactured using recombinant DNA technology. The mechanism of action of interferon is complex and is not well understood. Interferons modulate the response of the immune system to viruses, bacteria, cancer, and other foreign substances that invade the body. Interferons do not directly kill viral or cancerous cells; they boost the immune system response and reduce the growth of cancer cells by regulating the action of several genes that control the secretion of numerous cellular proteins that affect growth.
What are the available interferons?
- interferon alfa-2a (Roferon-A)
- interferon alfa-2b (Intron-A )
- interferon alfa-n3 (Alferon-N)
- peginterferon alfa-2b (PegIntron , Sylatron)
- interferon beta-1a (Avonex )
- interferon beta-1a (Rebif)
- interferon beta-1b (Betaseron)
- interferon beta-1b (Extavia)
- interferon gamma-1b (Actimmune )
- peginterferon alfa-2a (Pegasys ProClick)
- peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin (Peginterferon)
- peginterferon alfa-2b and ribavirin (PegIntron/Rebetol Combo Pack)
- peginterferon beta-1a (Plegridy)
- interferon alfacon-1 (Infergen has been discontinued in the US)
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