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Interferon alfa-2b is an antiviral or antineoplastic drug. It is a recombinant form of the protein Interferon alpha-2 that was originally sequenced and produced recombinantly in E. coli in the laboratory of Charles Weissmann at the University of Zurich, in 1980. It was developed at Biogen, and ultimately marketed by Schering-Plough under the trade name Intron-A. It was also produced in 1986 in recombinant human form, in the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology of Havana, Cuba, under the name Heberon Alfa R.
It has been used for a wide range of indications, including viral infections and cancers. This drug is approved around the world for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C, chronic hepatitis B, hairy cell leukemia, Behçet's disease, chronic myelogenous leukemia, multiple myeloma, follicular lymphoma, carcinoid tumor, mastocytosis and malignant melanoma.
So far, two non-peer reviewed research articles have been published. One study at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, showed evidence of a direct anti-viral effect of Interferon alpha against novel Coronavirus in vitro. The study demonstrated around 10,000 fold reduction in the quantity of virus that was pre-treated with Interferon alpha 48 hours earlier. A second study by universities in China, Australia and Canada analysed 77 moderate COVID-19 subjects in Wuhan and observed that those who received Interferon alpha-2b showed a significant reduction in the duration of virus shedding period and even in levels of the inflammatory cytokine, IL-6.  
This drug is also used off-label in cats and dogs, both by injection and orally. The cross-species nature of IFN-α allow it to work in non-human animals, but the period of usefulness is limited by the production of antibodies against this foreign protein.
|Interferon alfa-2b products|
|Reaferon EC||GNC Vector|
|Altevir||Bioprocess subsidiary||liquid, free of HSA|
|Kipferon||Alfarm||combination with IgM, IgA, IgG|
|Opthalamoferon||Firn-M||with dimedrol||eye infections|
|Heberon Alfa R||BioCubaFarma, Cuban-Chinese joint venture ChangHeber||severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)|
- Nagata, Shigekazu; Taira, Hideharu; Hall, Alan; Johnsrud, Lorraine; Streuli, Michel; Ecsödi, Josef; Boll, Werner; Cantell, Kari; Weissmann, Charles (1980). "Synthesis in E. coli of a polypeptide with human leukocyte interferon activity". Nature. 284 (5754): 316–320. Bibcode:1980Natur.284..316N. doi:10.1038/284316a0. ISSN 1476-4687. PMID 6987533. S2CID 4310807.
- Weissmann, Charles (2001). "Recombinant interferon - the 20th anniversary". In Buckel, Peter (ed.). Recombinant Protein Drugs. Milestones in Drug Therapy. Basel: Birkhäuser. pp. 3–41. doi:10.1007/978-3-0348-8346-7_1. ISBN 978-3-0348-8346-7.
- Mantei, Ned; Schwarzstein, Marco; Streuli, Michel; Panem, Sandra; Nagata, Shigekazu; Weissmann, Charles (1980-06-01). "The nucleotide sequence of a cloned human leukocyte Interferon cDNA". Gene. 10 (1): 1–10. doi:10.1016/0378-1119(80)90137-7. ISSN 0378-1119. PMID 6157600.
- Nodarse-Cuní, Hugo; López-Saura, Pedro A. (2017). "Cuban interferon alpha-2b. Thirty years as an effective and safe drug". Biotecnología Aplicada. 34 (1): 1211–1217. ISSN 1027-2852.
- EDT, Tom O'Connor On 3/24/20 at 5:34 PM (March 24, 2020). "Cuba uses "wonder drug" to fight coronavirus around the world despite U.S. sanctions". Newsweek.
- Pereda, Ricardo; González, Daniel; Rivero, Hubert Blas; Rivero, Juan Carlos; Pérez, Albadio; Lopez, Lissette Del Rosario; Mezquia, Natacha; Venegas, Rafael; Betancourt, Julio Roberto; Domínguez, Rodolfo Emilio; Nodarse, Hugo (2020). "Therapeutic Effectiveness of Interferon Alpha 2b Treatment for COVID-19 Patient Recovery". Journal of Interferon & Cytokine Research. 40 (12): 578–588. doi:10.1089/jir.2020.0188. PMID 33337933. S2CID 229324680.
- "Zydus to test use of Hepatitis C medicine for virus - Times of India". The Times of India.
- "BRIEF-Zydus Explores Biologicals Route to Treat Coronavirus with Interferon Alpha-2B". Reuters. 20 April 2020.
- Forney, Barbara. "Interferon Alpha-2B for Veterinary Use". Wedgewood Pharmacy. Archived from the original on 2021-10-19.
- Yang, LM; Xue, QH; Sun, L; Zhu, YP; Liu, WJ (February 2007). "Cloning and characterization of a novel feline IFN-omega". Journal of Interferon & Cytokine Research. 27 (2): 119–27. doi:10.1089/jir.2006.0094. PMID 17316139.
- Dmitrij I. Bairamashvili1 and Mikhail L. Rabinovich2* (2007). "Russia through the prism of the world biopharmaceutical market" (PDF). Biotechnol. J. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-24. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
- "Covid contenders: Viral drugs that offer hope". 18 April 2020.
- "The famous Cuban interferon vs the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus". 19 March 2020.
- "Medikament aus Kuba zur Behandlung des Coronavirus bald auch in Deutschland?". 30 March 2020.
- Intron-A Summary of Product Characteristics
- Nagata S, Taira H, Hall A, et al. (Mar 1980). "Synthesis in E. coli of a polypeptide with human leukocyte interferon activity". Nature. 284 (5754): 316–20. Bibcode:1980Natur.284..316N. doi:10.1038/284316a0. PMID 6987533. S2CID 4310807.