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Interferon

Interferon are proteins that are secreted by the immune system. Interferons can be alpha, beta and gamma. Different interferon drugs are used to treat conditions such as multiple sclerosis, leukemia, malignant melanoma, HPV and chronic hepatitis. Inteferons can enhance the body's immune response, combat cancer cells and weaken them.

Immunotherapy

Immune responses in the human body play a major role during disease or abnormality. The immune system responds according to the stimulus it receives from the brain either to fight a pathogen or to eradicate an unwanted cell in the body. Immunotherapy enhances or suppresses the immune system to act on the respective disease. Immunotherapy varies in types depending upon its administration requirements. In case of allergic reactions or autoimmune diseases, immunotherapy is used to suppress the immune response to control the adverse reactions caused by allergens and abnormal proteins.


Types of Immunotherapeutic Agents

Immunotherapy is selective for each disease. There are many types of immunotherapeutic agents available. Some are used to enhance the immune system in facilitating the process of phagocytosis and some are used to block the allergic reactions and autoimmune responses of the body.


Monoclonal antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies which are prepared in the lab are used as anticancer agents. These antibodies are unique as they target specific locations of the cancer cells. Monoclonal antibodies can used in many ways depending upon the type of case. Some monoclonal antibodies can be used directly without any additives. Some are coated with a radioactive material or an additional anticancer drug to act on the cancer cells. These antibodies adhere to the target cell thus interfering with the cancer cell activity.

Many conditions such as Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia have US FDA approved immunotherapy drugs. Rituxan and Campath are the first monoclonal immunotherapy FDA approved drugs in treatment of cancer. The common side effects noticed in the administration of monoclonal antibodies both as single and conjugated forms include fever, headaches, nausea, rash, low red blood cell count as it interferes with the marrow and also liver disorders. Monoclonal antibodies conjugated with radioactive material in case of radio immunotherapy may trigger severe allergic reactions.


Cytokines

Cytokines such as interferon and interleukin are generally used as immunotherapeutic agents because of their involvement with cell signaling pathways. They are naturally secreted by the body and they are also called nonspecific immunotherapeutic agents. They are predominantly used in treating infections, cancers and tumors. Alpha interferon is widely used in the treatment of cancers such as T-cell lymphoma, Chronic myelogenous leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphomas. They inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells by interfering with the growth factors.

Interleukins are also used in the treatment of cancers such as lymphoma, leukemia and mylomas of various origins. Interleukin 2 (IL2) is a widely recommended agent for myelomas. Interleukin and interferon therapies have side effects such as extreme fluid accumulation, fever, chills and dizziness. Cytokine therapies based on lymphocyte infusion can cause graft versus host disease leading to the destruction of host cells by the induced lymphocyte cells.



Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis or MS is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the myelin sheath that protects nerve cells is damaged. This leads to slowing of nerve impulses. Inflammation along the brain, optic nerve or spinal cord leads to nerve damage.

Those who have a family history of MS are more susceptible to this condition. The symptoms appear in episodes that relapse after days or weeks or even months. The episodes might be triggered by stress or fever.


Symptoms of Multiple sclerosis appear all over the body as they affect nerve cells. There is numbness and loss of balance, tremors in arms or legs, muscle spasms and difficulty in walking. There is an overriding feeling of fatigue. Patients suffering from MS might have eye discomfort with double vision or loss of vision. There might be painful spasms in the facial muscles and stool or urine leakage. The person might experience depressive feelings, slurred speech and difficulty in swallowing.


MS is diagnosed through brain MRI and spinal MRI. Spinal tap of cerebrospinal fluid is done to check for Multiple sclerosis. Medications to reduce the degradation caused by MS include interferon, Methotrexate, azathioprine (Imuran), intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan). Speech therapy and occupational therapy helps the patients to a large extent.

Tags: #Interferon #Immunotherapy #Multiple sclerosis
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: February 26, 2020