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Gastroenterology Research and Practice
Volume 2015, Article ID 796461, 9 pages
Review Article

IFN-λ: A New Class of Interferon with Distinct Functions-Implications for Hepatitis C Virus Research

1Institute of Blood Transfusion, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Peking Union Medical College, Chengdu, Sichuan 610052, China
2Toronto General Research Institute, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 1L6

Received 26 November 2014; Accepted 6 April 2015

Academic Editor: Anastasios Koulaouzidis

Copyright © 2015 Bing Liu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Pegylated interferon-α and ribavirin (PEG-IFN/RBV) is widely used to treat chronic hepatitis C virus infection with notorious adverse reactions since the broad expression of IFN-α receptors on all nucleated cells. Accordingly, a Type III IFN with restricted receptors distribution is much safer as an alternative for HCV therapy. In addition, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) near the human IFN-λ3 gene, IL-28B, correlate strongly with the ability to achieve a sustained virological response (SVR) to therapy with pegylated IFN-α plus ribavirin in patients infected with chronic hepatitis C. Furthermore, we also discuss the most recent findings: IFN-λ4 predicts treatment outcomes of HCV infection. In consideration of the apparent limitations of current HCV therapy, especially high failure rate and universal side effects, prediction of treatment outcomes prior to the initiation of treatment and developing new alternative drugs are two important goals in HCV research.