Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Feb 15;91(4):1198-205.

Cytokine therapeutics: lessons from interferon alpha.

Author information

Department of Clinical Immunology and Biological Therapy, University of Texas, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030.


Cytokines are soluble proteins that allow for communication between cells and the external environment. Interferon (IFN) alpha, the first cytokine to be produced by recombinant DNA technology, has emerged as an important regulator of growth and differentiation, affecting cellular communication and signal transduction pathways as well as immunological control. This review focuses on the biological and clinical activities of the cytokine. Originally discovered as an antiviral substance, the efficacy of IFN-alpha in malignant, viral, immunological, angiogenic, inflammatory, and fibrotic diseases suggests a spectrum of interrelated pathophysiologies. The principles learned from in vivo studies will be discussed, particularly hairy cell leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, certain angiogenic diseases, and hepatitis. After the surprising discovery of activity in a rare B-cell neoplasm, IFN-alpha emerged as a prototypic tumor suppressor protein that represses the clinical tumorigenic phenotype in some malignancies capable of differentiation. Regulatory agencies throughout the world have approved IFN-alpha for treatment of 13 malignant and viral disorders. The principles established with this cytokine serve as a paradigm for future development of natural proteins for human disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center