Interferon (IFN) is a protein that is synthesized by the majority of body cells and acts against bacteria, parasites, viruses and tumors. They are studied under the largest class of glycoproteins known as cytokines. There are four types of interferon;
- IFN alpha - Produced by white blood cells,
- IFN beta - Produced by other cells of the body,
- IFN gamma - produced by T lymphocytes.
- IFN tau - Produced by trophoblast cells.
Since interferon is specific to a particular species, it still has to be obtained from human cells for use in human therapy. Initially, the interferon was produced on a semi-industrial scale from white blood cells or from the fetus fibroblast culture. Today, IFN (IFN alpha) is produced by genetic engineers from a bacterium (Escherichia coli with colibacilli). For this purpose, the genetic treasure of the bacterium in question is changed by making a new arrangement (inserting the human DNA fragment encoded for IFN alpha). The culture is developed in the presence of tetraxylin, a potent antibiotic that the bacteria previously made resistant. In industrial scale production, cultures are made in 3500 liter fermentation vessels and the product is purified several times in a row.
Various interferons are used for MS (Multiple Sclerosis) patients. It is mostly used beta interferon.