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Targets & Mechanisms

Product profiles that could make interferons effective against COVID-19

Whether interferons live up to their potential as COVID-19 countermeasures may lie in delivery route, tissue specificity

Whether interferons live up to their potential as COVID-19 countermeasures may lie at the intersection of the delivery route and activity in specific tissues.

Nov 7, 2020 | 3:54 AM GMT

The recent failure of IFNβ in WHO’s master protocol trial for COVID-19 notwithstanding, there are plenty of reasons to suspect that interferons should be effective treatments for the infection. An analysis of the clinical readouts to date, along with emerging non-clinical studies in patients, suggests the tissue-specificity of interferons at different points in the disease may matter more than the type of interferon delivered. 

Type I interferons IFNα and IFNβ, and type III interferon IFN-λ, were among the earliest candidates to emerge as COVID-19 countermeasures due to their known roles in activating cellular antiviral defense programs including immune responses. IFNα products have been used for years to treat HCV infection.

The relevance of interferon-stimulated immunity against SARS-CoV-2 got a boost in September, when a pair of Science papers linked impaired type I pathways to 10-15% of life-threatening COVID-19 cases.

Scientists at Imagine Institute, INSERM and The Rockefeller University found autoantibodies against

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