- Isaacs and Lindenmann
- Did an experiment using chicken cell cultures
- Found a substance that interfered with viral replication and was therefore named interferon
- Nagano and Kojima also independently discovered this soluble antiviral protein
Interferons (IFNs) are proteins made and released by lymphocytes in response to the presence of pathogens—such as viruses, bacteria, or parasites—or tumor cells. They allow communication between cells to trigger the protective defenses of the immune system that eradicate pathogens or tumors.
IFNs belong to the large class of glycoproteins known as cytokines. Although they are named after their ability to “interfere” with viral replication within host cells, IFNs have other functions: they activate immune cells, such as natural killer cells and macrophages; they increase recognition of infection or tumor cells by up-regulating antigen presentation to T lymphocytes; and they increase the ability of uninfected host cells to resist new infection by virus. Certain host symptoms, such as aching muscles and fever, are related to the production of IFNs during infection.
About ten distinct IFNs have been identified in mammals; seven of these have been described for humans. They are typically divided among three IFN classes: Type I IFN, Type II IFN, and Type III IFN. IFNs belonging to all IFN classes are very important for fighting viral infections.
What is Interferon?
- Naturally occurring proteins and glycoproteins
- Secreted by eukaryotic cells in response to viral infections, tumors, and other biological inducers
- Produce clinical benefits for disease states such as hepatitis, various cancers, multiple sclerosis, and many other diseases
- Structurally, they are part of the helical cytokine family which are characterized by an amino acid chain that is 145-166 amino acids long