Interferons at age 50: past, current and future impact on biomedicine

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2007 Dec;6(12):975-90. doi: 10.1038/nrd2422.


The family of interferon (IFN) proteins has now more than reached the potential envisioned by early discovering virologists: IFNs are not only antivirals with a spectrum of clinical effectiveness against both RNA and DNA viruses, but are also the prototypic biological response modifiers for oncology, and show effectiveness in suppressing manifestations of multiple sclerosis. Studies of IFNs have resulted in fundamental insights into cellular signalling mechanisms, gene transcription and innate and acquired immunity. Further elucidation of the multitude of IFN-induced genes, as well as drug development strategies targeting IFN production via the activation of the Toll-like receptors (TLRs), will almost certainly lead to newer and more efficacious therapeutics. Our goal is to offer a molecular and clinical perspective that will enable IFNs or their TLR agonist inducers to reach their full clinical potential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents*
  • Antiviral Agents*
  • Biomedical Research
  • Humans
  • Interferons* / metabolism
  • Interferons* / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Interferons