Interferon in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C: A drug caught between past and future

Elena Vezali, Alessio Aghemo, Massimo Colombo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Chronic hepatitis C affects 2.2-3% of the world population (130 million-170 million). Pegylated IFN-α in combination with ribavirin, the currently approved therapy, leads to viral eradication in about 50% of treated patients, nevertheless it is associated with not negligible adverse events. Continuous efforts are being applied to improve the efficacy by means of new interferon molecules. Consensus IFN-α is currently available for use, while albumin-interferon, IFN-λ and IFN-ω are under investigation. Research is focussed on the directly acting antivirals, such as Telaprevir and Boceprevir, which are anticipated to enter the drug market during the next few years. Areas covered: This paper reviews the classification of interferons, mechanism of action, pegylated IFN-α molecules and their differences, current chronic hepatitis C treatment regimen and new drugs for HCV treatment. Expert opinion: Pegylated IFN-α will remain the basis of anti-HCV therapy during the next decade, since new IFN formulation are not proven to be superior or are in early stages of development and directly acting antivirals show limited antiviral activity as monotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-313
Number of pages13
JournalExpert Opinion on Biological Therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • albumin-interferon
  • consensus interferon
  • directly acting antivirals
  • hepatitis C
  • interferon-alfa
  • interferon-lambda
  • interferon-omega

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Drug Discovery


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