Interferons are soluble proteins produced naturally by cells in response to viruses. It has both anti-proliferative and immunomodulating properties and is one of the first examples of a biological response modifier use to treat the hematological malignancy multiple myeloma. Interferon has been used in this clinical practice for over thirty years. However, despite considerable efforts, numerous clinical trials and two large meta-analysis, its exact role in the management of multiple myeloma still remains unclear. Its role in the treatment of multiple myeloma has been as a single induction agent, a co-induction agent with other chemotherapy regimens, and as maintenance therapy after conventional chemotherapy or complete remission after autologous or allogeneic transplantation. Interferon as a single induction agent or co-induction agent with other chemotherapy agents appears only to have minimal benefit in myeloma. Its role as maintenance therapy in the plateau phase of myeloma also remains uncertain. More recently, the use of interferon must now compete with the “new drugs” – thalidomide, lenalidomide and bortezomib in myeloma treatment. Will there be a future role of interferon in the treatment of multiple myeloma or will interferon be resigned to the history books remains to be seen.
Keywords: Interferon, immunomodulating, inflammation genes, maintenance, side effects, single agent, co-induction agent, multiple myeloma, plasma cells
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