Interferon is a naturally produced chemical released by the body in response to viral infections. It can be produced artificially and used as a form of immunotherapy
Although BCG has better track rate as an intravesical immuntherapy for superficial TCC, recombinant interferon-alpha has been shown to work in BCG failures. Tolerability is very good, while toxicity in the form of mild flu-like symptoms is observed in only very few patients. Pilots studies have shown that intravesical interferon therapy can significantly lower the recurrence rate in superficial TCC of the urinary bladder. While significant response was seen in those who had had prior treatment which had failed, response rates in those who had no prior treatment was nearly doubled (30% vs 67%).
In one UK study, CIS patients treated with effective doses (100 million units compared with 10 million units) achieved a complete response of 47 percent.2 IFN alpha has an important role in superficial bladder cancer treatment, particulary as second line therapy after BCG or intravesical chemo has failed.
Animal studies have shown the combination to be more effective than that of either single agent alone, and recent research is suggesting that interferon alpha2b is a potent BCG enhancer. Early data showed that BCG + IFN is well tolerated and effective for patients at high risk for disease recurrence and/or progression, even for those that have failed prior BCG therapy. Furthermore, significant reductions in BCG dose (=less side effects) are possible with this regimen without apparent loss in anti-cancer efficacy.
Educational material about interferon and low dose BCG combined for therapy