Oncology & Cancer

Improving interferon therapy for blood cancers

[Northwestern Medicine investigators have discovered a novel signaling pathway activated by interferons, a group of immune system proteins, that suppresses the anti-tumor response of interferons in patients with a particular ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Immunologists unravel battle plans of deadly coronaviruses

Immunologists from Trinity, who have worked on coronaviruses for the past decade, have just unraveled new secrets behind the viruses' battle plans—providing new insights into how these deadly viruses sometimes win the war ...

Immunology

Immune cells regulate body weight

Obesity is among the biggest health challenges of the 21st century, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Almost 60% of Germans are considered overweight, while 25% are obese. Moreover, being overweight often ...

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Interferon

Interferons (IFNs) are proteins made and released by host cells 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. Interferons 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.

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