Peginterferon alfa-2a

Peginterferon alfa-2a
Clinical data
AHFS/ Consumer Drug Information
MedlinePlus a605029
  • C (mono therapy), X (combination therapy with ribavirin)
Routes of
ATC code L03AB11 (WHO)
L03AB61 (WHO) (in combinations)
Legal status
Legal status
  • ℞ (Prescription only)
CAS Number 215647-85-1 N
DrugBank DB00008 YesY
ChemSpider none
KEGG D02748 YesY
Chemical and physical data
Formula C860H1353N227O255S9
Molar mass 19241 g/mol (unpegylated)
40000 g/mol (pegylated)
 NYesY (what is this?)  (verify)

Pegylated interferon alfa-2a (pegylated with a branched 40 kg/mol PEG chain; commercial name Pegasys) is an antiviral drug discovered at the pharmaceutical company F. Hoffmann-La Roche; it has a dual mode of action - both antiviral and on the immune system. The addition of polyethylene glycol to the interferon, through a process known as pegylation, enhances the half-life of the interferon when compared to its native form.

It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, a list of the most important medication needed in a basic health system.[1]

Medical uses

This drug is approved around the world for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C (including patients with HIV co-infection, cirrhosis, 'normal' levels of ALT) and has recently been approved (in the EU, U.S., China and many other countries) for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B. It is also used in the treatment of certain T-cell lymphomas, particularly mycosis fungoides.

Peginterferon alfa-2a is a long acting interferon. Interferons are proteins released in the body in response to viral infections. Interferons are important for fighting viruses in the body, for regulating reproduction of cells, and for regulating the immune system.

Host genetic factors influencing treatment response

For genotype 1 hepatitis C treated with pegylated interferon-alpha-2a or pegylated interferon-alpha-2b (brand names Pegasys or PEG-Intron) combined with ribavirin, it has been shown that genetic polymorphisms near the human IL28B gene, encoding interferon lambda 3, are associated with significant differences in response to the treatment. This finding, originally reported in Nature,[2] showed genotype 1 hepatitis C patients carrying certain genetic variant alleles near the IL28B gene are more likely to achieve sustained virological response after the treatment than others. Another report in Nature [3] demonstrated the same genetic variants are also associated with the natural clearance of the genotype 1 hepatitis C virus.


A Cochrane Review sought to determine whether interferon alfa-2a (Roferon-A) could be used as a treatment for individuals with neovascular age-related macular degeneration. The trial examined showed no evidence of Roferon-A improving visual acuity among patients with AMD, with potential harm rather than benefit.[4]

See also


  1. "WHO Model List of EssentialMedicines" (PDF). World Health Organization. October 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
  2. Ge D, Fellay J, Thompson AJ, et al. (2009). "Genetic variation in IL28B predicts hepatitis C treatment-induced viral clearance". Nature. 461 (7262): 399–401. doi:10.1038/nature08309. PMID 19684573.
  3. Thomas DL, Thio CL, Martin MP, et al. (2009). "Genetic variation in IL28B and spontaneous clearance of hepatitis C virus". Nature. 461 (7265): 798–801. doi:10.1038/nature08463. PMC 3172006Freely accessible. PMID 19759533.
  4. Reddy U, Krzystolik M (2006). "Antiangiogenic therapy with interferon alfa for neovascular age-related macular degeneration". Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 1: CD005138. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005138.pub2. PMID 16437522.

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