Interferon, class of small soluble proteins produced and released by cells invaded by a virus, that inhibits viral multiplication. Interferon production may also be induced by certain bacteria and specifically sensitized lymphocytes. There are indications that interferon may be useful in the treatment of certain types of cancer. A nasal spray containing interferon produced in the laboratory prevented between 78% and 84% of colds caused by rhinoviruses in families participating in 2 independent studies published in January 1986 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
See also: Cancer.