in·​ter·​fer·​on | \ ˌin-tər-ˈfir-ˌän How to pronounce interferon (audio) , ˌin-tə- \

Definition of interferon

: any of a group of heat-stable soluble basic antiviral glycoprotein cytokines of low molecular weight that are produced by cells exposed usually to the action of a virus, sometimes to the action of another intracellular parasite (such as a bacterium), or experimentally to the action of some chemicals

Examples of interferon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, treated its first patient last week with a combination of Gilead’s remdesivir and the anti-inflammatory interferon. Chronicle Staff,, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: August 11-12," 17 Aug. 2020 The sheer number of interferon genes some bats have hints at a flexible, more nuanced response. Rachel Ehrenberg, Ars Technica, "The bat-virus détente," 3 July 2020 The molecules deliver instructions to ribosomes to make interferon proteins that exit the cell to alert immune system cells. Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, "Support Science Journalism," 23 June 2020 Interferon-lambda / Stanford University: Doctors at Stanford are running a trial to see if interferon-lambda, which is administered by injection, helps patients in the early stages of COVID-19. Peter Fimrite,, "Efforts at coronavirus vaccines and treatments abound in the Bay Area," 22 June 2020 Stanford doctors are investigating whether another drug called interferon-lambda could help patients in the early stages of COVID-19. J.d. Morris,, "Bay Area search for coronavirus drugs extends far beyond remdesivir," 25 May 2020 Apart from a surge in interleukin-6, the body may also show high swirling levels of molecules called interleukin-1, interferon-gamma, C-reactive protein and tumor necrosis factor-alpha. Apoorva Mandavilli, New York Times, "The Coronavirus Patients Betrayed by Their Own Immune Systems," 1 Apr. 2020 In addition, some patients who were admitted seven days or more after their symptoms started were not offered interferon, but were analyzed as part of the combination group. Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times, "A Drug Cocktail Hastens Recovery in Some Coronavirus Patients," 8 May 2020 And in previous work, the authors of the new paper had identified a pathway, involving a signaling protein called interferon regulatory factor 5 (IRF5), in which a flu infection can lead to a cytokine storm. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, "How Blood Sugar Can Trigger a Deadly Immune Response in the Flu and Possibly COVID-19," 24 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'interferon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of interferon

1957, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for interferon

interfere + -on entry 2

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Time Traveler for interferon

Time Traveler

The first known use of interferon was in 1957

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Statistics for interferon

Last Updated

30 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Interferon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for interferon


in·​ter·​fer·​on | \ ˌint-ə(r)-ˈfi(ə)r-ˌän How to pronounce interferon (audio) \

Medical Definition of interferon

: any of a group of heat-stable soluble basic antiviral glycoproteins of low molecular weight that are produced usually by cells exposed to the action of a virus, sometimes to the action of another intracellular parasite (as a bacterium), or experimentally to the action of some chemicals, and that include some used medically as antiviral or antineoplastic agents — see alpha interferon, beta interferon, gamma interferon

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