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August 1979

Viral-induced Remission in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia?

Arch Intern Med. 1979;139(8):946. doi:10.1001/archinte.1979.03630450088038

To the Editor.—  Hansen and Libnoch have recently described in the Archives (138:1137-1138, 1978) a patient with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who attained a complete remission after smallpox vaccination. Proposed mechanisms for this remission included spontaneous regression, direct viral destruction of lymphocytes, and lymphocyte destruction through viral-induced host immune defenses. A trial of vaccinia oncolysate therapy for CLL was proposed. We wish to propose another mechanism for this remission: induction of endogenous interferon production.Interferon preparations have been shown to have both antiviral and antimitotic properties.1,2 Viral infection induces host production of interferon. It has been shown that lymphocyte interferon production is increased in response to vaccinia antigen challenge.3 Inhibition of the proliferation of tumor cells by interferon has been demonstrated with in vitro and in vivo animal systems.2 Human malignancies have also responded to exogenous interferon treatment.4 Interferon has been used as adjuvant therapy for