Fifty Years with Interferons

In 1981 Sidney Pestka and colleagues at Roche purified recombinant human leukocyte interferon from bacteria setting the stage for its structure elucidation. Credit: COURTESY OF SIDNEY PESTKA / PBL BIOMEDICAL LABORATORIES" />In 1981 Sidney Pestka and colleagues at Roche purified recombinant human leukocyte interferon from bacteria setting the stage for its structure elucidation. Credit: COURTESY OF SIDNEY PESTKA / PBL BIOMEDICAL LABORATORIES In 1957, Alick Isaacs and Jean Lindenmann, b

Andrea Gawrylewski
Mar 31, 2007
<figcaption>In 1981 Sidney Pestka and colleagues at Roche purified recombinant human leukocyte interferon from bacteria setting the stage for its structure elucidation. Credit: COURTESY OF SIDNEY PESTKA / PBL BIOMEDICAL LABORATORIES</figcaption>
In 1981 Sidney Pestka and colleagues at Roche purified recombinant human leukocyte interferon from bacteria setting the stage for its structure elucidation. Credit: COURTESY OF SIDNEY PESTKA / PBL BIOMEDICAL LABORATORIES

In 1957, Alick Isaacs and Jean Lindenmann, both at the National Institute for Medical Research in London, set out to understand why inactivated influenza virus could induce interference in cells and tissues, preventing infection by "live" virus.

That the inactivated viruses physically blocked infection seemed unlikely. So, the two incubated chorio-allatoic membranes from chicken eggs with heat-inactivated influenza. They then washed the membranes and tried to infect them with normal virus. An interfering agent produced in response to the inactive virus seemed to be protecting both incubated membranes and fresh membranes placed in the fluids from incubated membranes. "To distinguish it from the heated influenza virus," the authors wrote, "we have called the newly released interfering agent, 'interferon.'"1...

References

1. A. Isaacs and J. Lindenmann, "Virus interference, 1: The interferon," Proc Roy Soc London, 147:258-267, 1957. 2. M. Miyamoto, "Regulated expression of a gene encoding a nuclear factor, IRF-1, that specifically binds to IFN-Beta gene regulatory elements," Cell, 54:903-913, 1988. 3. B.R. Tenoever et al, "Multiple functions of the IKK-related kinase IKK-ε in interferon-mediated antiviral immunity," Science, 315:1274-8, 2007.