Any of several glycoproteins that help the body fight off viral infections. During a viral invasion, infected cells produce three kinds of interferon (alpha, beta, and gamma) which circulate in the blood stream and help make uninfected cells immune to the attack.
Interferon was discovered in 1957 by Alick Isaacs.
Interferon alpha is the main type produced by the white blood cells. It is also manufactured pharmacologically to treat hairy-cell leukemia.
From the BioTech Dictionary at http://biotech.icmb.utexas.edu/. For further information see the BioTech homenode.