Interferon

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Eni Williams, PharmD, PhD

    Dr. Eni Williams graduated from Creighton University in 1988 with a B.S. degree in pharmacy and a Doctor of Pharmacy from Howard University in 1994. She also obtained a Ph.D. in Public Policy in 2009 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

The Effects of Multiple Sclerosis

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:

  1. alpha,
  2. beta, and
  3. gamma.

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)
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/12/2015

Quick GuideMultiple Sclerosis Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Multiple Sclerosis Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

See more info: interferon on RxList
RxList Logo

Need help identifying pills and medications?

Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors