This drug is widely known in the medical and pharmacological fields. Recently, it has been used as another weapon to treat the coronavirus pandemic.
Interferon is a low molecular weight protein that lately is giving a lot to talk about since it acts by mediating a whole set of reactions at the cellular level that trigger mechanisms that interfere (the word from which the name of this drug derives) with the multiplication of the virus.
This protein plays an important role in the cells and the body as a whole (with its different levels of defense). As we have seen throughout history, there are countless viruses that we go to and many become pathogens for man.
What is Interferon?
These are proteins produced and dissolved by cells of the immune system – naturally – in the presence of viruses, tumors, bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens. All types of interferons have something in common: their main function is immunomodulatory and antiviral, which works by inhibiting the production of viral RNA and protein.
|In other words, a cell infected with a virus will release interferons, which will cause the neighboring cells to increase their antiviral defenses.|
Interferon approved treatments
Although interferons have many similarities, they can affect the body in different ways. Different types of IFNs are used to treat different conditions.
- Alpha Interferon: Used to treat viral infections and different cancers.
- Interferon Beta: Used to treat multiple IQ sclerosis.
- Gamma Interferon: Used to treat chronic granulomatous diseases.
|Interferon Type||Approved Treatment|
Interferon alfa-2a (Roferon-A)
|✔ Chronic myelogenous leukemia IQ|
✔ Hairy cell leukemia IQ
✔ AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma
|✔ Hairy cell leukemia,|
✔ Malignant melanoma
✔ Condylomata acuminata
✔ AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma
✔ Chronic hepatitis C, and
✔ Chronic hepatitis B
|Ribavirin combined with interferon alfa-2b|
– Interferon alfacon-1 (Infergen)
– Pegylated interferon alfa-2b, or pegylated interferon alpha-2a
✔ All approved for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C
|Interferon beta-1b (Betaseron) and|
Interferon beta-1a (Avonex)
|✔ Multiple sclerosis treatments|
|Interferon alfa-n3 (Alferon-N)||✔ For genital and perianal warts caused by human papillomavirus (HPV).|
|Interferon gamma-1B (Actimmune)||✔ Chronic granulomatous disease, and|
✔ Severe, malignant osteopetrosis
|Peginterferon beta-1a (Plegridy)||✔ Multiple sclerosis (MS)|
Recombinant Human Interferon Alpha 2b (IFNrec) is a “therapeutic product” and not a vaccine against COVID-19. These types of treatments are used in response to an emergency and are focused on alleviating or reducing the symptoms of certain diseases.
Chinese authorities and scientists, elbow to elbow with their Cuban colleagues, have launched a plan to counter the exponential wave of coronavirus infections, administering interferon to patients with advanced but not severe symptoms. In this way, attempts are made to strengthen the immune system of those affected by preventing the multiplication of viruses in the body.
In turn, in cases of COVID-19, interferon is used together with other medications – Lopinavir, Ritonavir, Ribavirin – to be more effective or to counteract any side effect.
Antiviral action of Interferon
Although the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) clarifies that there is still no specific drug against coronavirus, in Wuhan, China, after administering Interferon to hundreds of patients in a preventive way, it has been shown that this drug manages to reduce the levels of complications in respiratory diseases.
Commercially known by the name of Heberon Alfa R, it supplements the deficiency of interferons due to the new coronavirus, thereby strengthening the immune system of patients.
Previously in 2002 and 2012, in the outbreaks of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (severe respiratory syndrome associated with the Middle East), respectively, Interferon has already been used to prevent contagion, especially in the early stages of the disease and overall to create “social immunity” or “herd groups”.
Is interferon a vaccine for coronavirus?
Basically, NO. It is not a vaccine against the new SARS Cov-2, but it is used in its antiviral treatment in these types of conditions.
Where does Interferon come from? A bit of history…
Charles Weissmann, a Hungarian-born Swiss molecular biologist, was known to be the first to clone and express interferon, as well as his contributions to the unraveling of molecular genetics of neurogenerative prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, scrapie, and the ‘mad cow disease’. Furthermore, Finnish professor Kari Cantell first isolated the interferon molecule in 1972.
Although interferon is widely known as a Cuban laboratory medicine (BioCubaFarma), there are other similar laboratories around the world. It should be noted that, based on Chinese-Cuban cooperation, the Asian company Changchun Heber Biological Technology joint venture is, with Cuban technology, the largest producer and distributor of Interferon Alfa 2b and is endorsed by the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB).
From the 1980s, interferon was increasingly studied and used in various health treatments. Today, there is an association with around a thousand scientists involved in the research of this protein.
Interferon side effects
|Some common side effects of interferons include flu-like symptoms after each injection may be:|
|✔ Fever||✔ Muscle aches|
|✔ Chills||✔ Pains|
|✔ Headache||✔ Malaise|
|Other side effects depending on the patient’s condition or overdose may be:|
|✔ Fatigue||✔ Increased heart rate|
|✔ Diarrhea||✔ Confusion|
|✔ Nausea||✔ Low white blood cell count|
|✔ Vomiting||✔ Low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)|
|✔ Abdominal pain||✔ Low red blood cell count|
|✔ Joint aches||✔ An increase in liver enzymes|
|✔ Back pain||✔ An increase in triglycerides|
|✔ Dizziness||✔ Skin rashes|
|✔ Anorexia||✔ Mild hair loss or hair thinning|
|✔ Congestion||✔ Swelling (edema)|
|✔ Allergic or anaphylactic reaction||✔ Cough, difficulty breathing|
As new treatments against the novel coronavirus appear, epidemiologists, infectious diseases, virologists, among other scientists and health professionals are putting their chest to bullets. It is our responsibility to take care of our family and ourselves.
You may well stay at home taking advantage of the time to learn new things and spend time with your families or loved ones if possible. And, if it is true that most music and sports events are canceled, remember you can still place bets online on BetAmerica.com. The online betting industry is one of the few who has been taking profits from this quarantine period, as most people are staying home and are looking for alternative sources of income.
Keep social distance, use gel alcohol, and especially wash your hands with soap and water. Although Interferon can help us strengthen our immune system, staying home is the best option recommended so far by the medical community. Take care!