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Except for the large viruses such as those of trachoma, viruses have not been susceptible to antibiotic therapy. Interferon, however, is a broad-spectrum virus inhibitor, and its discovery immediately raised the possibility that it might be the panacea for virus disease.
Although it had long been known that infection by one virus could protect against infection by other viruses, no substance responsible for this protection was identified until 1957. Then Alick Isaacs and co-workers found that some substance in the medium from a cell culture infected by heat-killed influenza virus could make noninfected cultures resistant to many types of virus infection. This interfering substance they called interferon.
Interferon is a protein with a molecular weight approximately that of hemoglobin. It is secreted by cells in response to challenge by virus nucleic acid, and although many different viruses (and even some nonvirus nucleic acid) can evoke its production, a given cell
Kaufman HE. Interferon. Arch Ophthalmol. 1962;67(4):396–397. doi:10.1001/archopht.1962.00960020398002
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