Chapter 50 : Alick Isaacs and Interferon

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Interferon (IFN ) found its rightful place in the control of serious virus infections only in more recent times. In the crucial experiment, conducted with the visiting Swiss researcher Jean Lindenmann, Alick Isaacs added influenza virus, inactivated by heat, to pieces of chorioallantoic membrane from a developing hen’s egg. They then recovered fluid from the membrane, incubated it with fresh membrane, introduced live virus, and incubated it again. The virus failed to grow, indicating that something inhibitory, which proved to be a protein, had been transferred in the fluid. As it explained the well-known phenomenon of interference, Isaacs named the protein IFN. Technical barriers aside, the pioneers did not have an easy time in steering a prudent course between the positive, confident endorsement of interferon research and the need for caution. Fortunately, IFN is now both widely available and successful in clinical practice, with a permanent place in the pharmacopoeia. IFNs are divided into type I and type II. These proteins can also be made in three different ways. They can be produced by stimulating leukocytes with a virus or other inducer or it can be made in lymphoblastoid cells, and or genetically engineered .

Citation: Dixon B. 2009. Alick Isaacs and Interferon, p 233-237. In Animalcules. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817442.ch50
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1. Finter, N. B. 1996. The naming of cats—and alpha-interferons. Lancet 348: 348 349.
2. Isaacs, A.,, and J. Lindenmann. 1957. Virus interference. I. The interferon. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 147: 258 267.
3. Subramanian, G. M.,, M. Fiscella,, A. Lamousé-Smith,, S. Zeuzem,, and J. G. McHutchison. 2007. Albinterferon alpha-2b: a genetic fusion protein for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. Nat. Biotechnol. 25: 1411 1419.

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