The Effect of Interferon on Infection and Disease

Satisfactory Essays
The Effect of Interferon on Infection and Disease

Interferon is a natural occurring substance produced by the body in response to infection and disease. It is a protein belonging to the cytokines family and they are a form of chemical messengers that send signals from one cell to another. Manufactured forms of interferon have been shown to help the body's immune system fight off disease more effectively.

The interferons we use are made with recombinant DNA techniques. This means that we put the genes for interferons into bacteria so that they now have the ability to make them. With the new ability the bacteria starts to produce the interferons for us to harvest.

 How does interferon work?

Interferons are a part of the immune system. This system involves the body's ability to distinguish cells that are part of the body from those that have found their way in and are harmful. Most of these unwanted substances are viruses, bacteria, and other type of disease causing organisms.

When a cell in our body has become infected or has become cancerous it’s surface changes. This is how the immune system can tell good cells from bad ones (the markings on the surface.) Once a bad cell has been recognized our bodies sends cells to destroy the damaged cell and prevent the spread of whatever caused the damage in the first place. The next step our body takes is to have the affected cells start to produce interferons and other helpful substances. These help to fight off unwanted organisms, and also to warn other cells of the invaders and prepare them to resist them therefore preventing the spread of disease.

 How did we discover them and what kinds are there?

Interferons were first discovered as a result of their ability to prevent viral replication, by Alick Issacs. After some experimenting with heat damaged flu virus he notice something interfered with the replication of the virus in cells. He called this substance Interferons. Since them additional research has determined that interferons also affect tumor growth and can be used to fight certain types of cancers.

Many different sources say different things about the types of existing and available interferons, so I chose to list the most common ones that I found. They are:

 Interferon-alpha

 Interferon-beta

 Interferon-gamma

Alpha interferons are used to treat several diseases, including some types of cancer, such as hairy cell leukemia, melanoma, follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma.
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