Biological and Clinical Properties of the Type 1 Interferons

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Book Chapter

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Interferons (IFNs) are class 2 cytokines that carry out important physiological functions in higher vertebrates, particularly in the regulation of host adaptive and innate immune responses. The complex type 1 IFN family, which includes IFN-α and IFN-β, will be the focus of this chapter. Virus and other innate immune stimuli induce expression of type 1 IFNs, which then act on responsive cells to establish an antiviral state. Type 1 IFN effects are mediated by the protein products of IFN-responsive genes, the identities and functions of which are only now starting to emerge fully. In a clinical setting, type 1 IFNs, IFN-α in particular, have shown effectiveness against a variety of malignancies. Current efforts aimed at improving pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles of IFNs, identifying subtypes with novel biological activities and/or establishment of combined treatment modalities involving type 1 IFNs should lead to future improvements in therapeutic effectiveness.



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