Cytokines Interferons and Interleukins

Cytokines are soluble mediators or glycoproteins helping cells communicate and function as part of the immunological, hematological, and neurological systems (10). Interferons and interleukins are cytokines with enormous therapeutic potential. Alpha interferon (Wellferon®) was developed as the first cell culture-derived biological for treatment of cancer (4). This was achieved in 8000 L bioreactors using Nawalwa cells at the Wellcome facility. It was followed by the production of several other interferons and interleukins. Due to the small size and relatively simple molecular structure of cytokines, production by simpler cell systems (microbial or yeast) seemed to be adequate. However, mammalian cells express more native cytokines, and cell culture technology is the method of choice for alpha, beta, and gamma interferons. In addition, interleukins 2 to 4, 6, 11, and 12 are also produced by cell culture technology (7).

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