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What are the Different Types of Interferon Treatment?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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Interferon is a naturally occurring protein found in the human body that works to support the immune system. Scientists have found a way to use this protein to make a variety of medications aimed at treating patients with various diseases, including cancer and multiple sclerosis. The various medications used as interferon treatment are labeled according to usage with such names as interferon alpha, beta, and gamma. These medications work by attacking bacteria, viruses, and abnormal cancer cells that may have invaded the body.

Interferon treatment is administered to the patient in the form of an injection. Therefore, a prescription is necessary in order to obtain this medication. The dosage as well as the length of time the treatment lasts will depend on the reason for treatment as well as the overall health of the patient. It is important for the patient to be monitored closely by a physician during interferon treatment.

The interferon treatment known as interferon alpha is used to treat a variety of cancers, including two different types of leukemia and AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma. Hairy cell leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the bone marrow as well as the blood. Chronic myelogenous leukemia tends to only affect the bone marrow. AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma is a type of cancer that attacks the soft tissue of the body. Research is ongoing, and scientists hope that this type of interferon treatment will eventually be able to be used to treat even more forms of cancer.

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Interferon beta is another type of interferon treatment. This class of medication is used to treat multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease that affects the brain as well as the spinal cord. Still another type of treatment is interferon gamma. This is used to treat a condition known as chronic granulomatous disease, which is marked by masses that resemble tumors that develop in various tissues of the body.

Any of the above types of interferon treatment must be closely monitored by medical professionals, as there is the potential of serious side effects from the use of this type of medication. Some of these side effects include depression, symptoms that resemble those of the flu, and difficulty breathing. Organ damage has been reported as a result of interferon treatment, sometimes requiring a transplant. There are medical tests available that will help doctors detect potential dangerous effects before they become dangerous or even life-threatening.

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