IFN-Lambda1 Polypeptides as Antiviral and Anticancer Therapeutics

Only IFN-λ and not IFN-α protects mice from lethal high-virulence influenza A virus infection

Invention Summary:

Interferons (IFNs) are well known for their potent broad-spectrum antiviral activities. In addition, these pluripotent cytokines can also regulate cell growth and differentiation, tissue homeostasis and angiogenesis, and immune and inflammatory responses in various physiological and pathophysiological conditions. Due to their diverse functions, clinical applications for IFNs include treatment of chronic and acute viral infections, various malignancies, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Type III IFNs or IFN-λs, have shown great promises since their discovery in 2003. The high biological potency targeted to epithelial barriers, low toxicity and side effects make IFN-λs an ideal candidate for the development of novel antiviral and anti-cancer therapeutics.

Rutgers scientists have developed and tested IFN-λ1 and IFN-λ3 polypeptide, the two most potent type III IFNs. Experiments in vivo demonstrated that IFN-λs act exclusively at mucosal barriers rendering epithelial cells resistant to virus infection and have antiviral efficacy, superior to those of IFN-α, against respiratory viruses such as influenza virus as a prophylactic or therapeutic broad-spectrum antiviral agent. Importantly, due to the limited systemic action, IFN-λs have fewer and milder side effects.

Market Applications:

  • Broad-spectrum Antiviral Therapeutics (influenza, corona viruses)
  • Disease Prevention/Treatment
  • Anticancer Therapeutics
  • Biomedical Research Tools


  • High tissue specificity
  • Active on mucosal epithelial cells, which act as a first line of defense against viruses
  • Less hematopoietic toxicity than type I IFNs
  • Fewer and milder side effects than type I IFNs
  • Highly efficacious with long-lasting activities at mucosal barriers
  • Reagents and cell lines available for potential collaboration.

Intellectual Property & Development Status:

Patents issued. Available for licensing and/or research collaboration.

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Fred Banti
Associate Director, Life Sciences
Rutgers University