3-Year Global MPN Interferon Initiative 

  • MPNRF | November 1, 2021

    Chicago, IL, November 1, 2021 (Newswire) – In real world usage and in clinical trials, interferon (IFN), in a variety of forms, has shown high rates of hematologic and molecular responses in most patients with polycythemia vera (PV) and essential thrombocythemia (ET), and some patients in the early phase of primary myelofibrosis (PMF), together a group of rare blood cancers called myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). While encouraging, other patients have no significant response, and some develop drug resistance to recombinant interferon over time.

    A report summarizing a three-year MPNRF Interferon Initiative, released today, sheds some light on the reasons for these varying responses, and may have impactful applications not only for MPNs, but for other blood cancers and solid tumors as well.

    “The initiative brought together and funded multi-institutional investigations by key researchers from across the US, Europe and Australia to uncover a deeper understanding of the mechanisms by which interferon works for patients with a myeloproliferative neoplasm,” said Barbara Van Husen, MPNRF board chair, active with the foundation for the past 20 years.

    “It is unusual that we have been effectively using interferon for the treatment of MPNs for more than 30 years without fully understanding how it works,” said Richard T. Silver, MD, director emeritus of the Silver MPN Center at Weill Cornell Medicine. “That is why the MPNRF’s Interferon Initiative is so important. Interferon appears to uniquely affect the MPN stem cells and has other valuable attributes,” according to Dr. Silver, who is also founder of the Cancer Research & Treatment Fund (CR&T), which has supported clinical, laboratory and translational research in this field. Dr. Silver is one of 10 world-renowned advisors to the Interferon Initiative.

    “These answers can help validate the use of newer, more disease-specific forms of IFN, as well as new approaches to more rational IFN-based drug combinations for MPN patients,” according to Rick Winneker, PhD, MPNRF director of scientific strategies, and author of the summary report. “The potential to define new downstream IFN signaling targets that can be modulated to enhance the activity of IFN also remains an area of research interest.”

    Recombinant IFN alpha (rIFNa) can reduce the mutant JAK2 allele burden associated with the majority of people living with an MPN, but understanding how, why and sometimes why not has remained largely elusive.

    The Interferon Initiative studies set out to:

  • Increase insight into the underlying mechanism(s) of action of rIFN, especially as it relates to MPN stem and progenitor cell function;
  • Better define the patient/disease profile to help predict which patients may respond to treatment and/or be resistant to therapy;
  • Discover what factors lead to rIFN resistance over time and how to overcome that resistance; and
  • Develop strategies to enhance the activity of rIFN or identify new therapeutic options based on IFN signaling pathways.
  • For more information, visit our MPN Interferon Initiative webpage. Project summaries and details can be found in the full Scientific Summary

    The Interferon Initiative received funding support from multiple sources in addition to the MPN Research Foundation, including the MPN Australian Alliance, CR&T and PharmaEssentia.