What interferon (IFN) preparations are used in the treatment of hepatitis C (hep C) infection?

Updated: Oct 07, 2019
  • Author: Vinod K Dhawan, MD, FACP, FRCPC, FIDSA; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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The two most frequently used recombinant interferon (IFN) preparations in clinical trials have been IFN alfa-2b (Intron-A) and IFN alfa-2a (Roferon-A), which differ from each other by only a single amino acid residue. IFN alfacon-1 (Infergen), or consensus IFN, is a genetically engineered compound synthesized by combining the most common amino acid sequences from all 12 naturally occurring IFNs. Roferon-A was discontinued from the market in 2007 and Infergen was discontinued from the market in 2013.

The addition of propylene glycol (PEG) molecules to IFN has led to the development of long-lasting IFNs that have better sustained absorption, a slower rate of clearance, and a longer half-life than unmodified IFN, which permits more convenient once-weekly dosing. The FDA has approved PEG-IFNs for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.

Two PEG-IFN preparations are available for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. PEG-IFN alfa-2b (PEG-Intron) consists of IFN alfa-2b attached to a single 12-kd PEG chain; it is excreted by the kidneys. PEG-IFN alfa-2a (Pegasys) consists of IFN alfa-2a attached to a 40-kd branched PEG molecule; it is metabolized predominantly by the liver.

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