Summary of Applications of Orally Administered Interferon in Animal and Human Health

The Interferons (IFN) are a group of natural proteins that are produced by mammalian cells in response to viral infection and other stimuli. They were first described in 1957, and were named for their ability to interfere with viral and tumor cell replication. There are three main types of interferon:

  • Interferons beta and alpha—produced mainly by white blood cells and certain connective tissue cells called fibroblasts.
  • Interferon gamma—produced primarily by activated T cells—is a naturally-occurring substance in the body that promotes inflammation. In many ways, interferon beta and interferon gamma work to counteract each other.



  1. A distinct group of cytokines (molecules that cause movement of immune cells and promote immunity) exhibiting pleiotropic (multiple) activities categorized as antiviral, antiproliferative and immunomodulatory.
  2. Potent mediators in the host defense mechanism and homeostasis, modulating both the innate and adaptive immune responses.
  3. Small (20-25k daltons) proteins induced in vertebrate cells in response to viruses, bacteria, protozoa, certain cytokines, mitogens, natural and synthetic double-stranded RNA.
  4. Mediators of biological activities by binding to receptors present on the surface of target cells.


Low dose oral IFN alpha has been tested in:

  • 68 human clinical trials
  • 100+ clinical trials in dogs, cats, horses, swine, cattle, poultry, fish, & rodents.


Oral IFN is Safe and Often Beneficial in Humans:

  • Aphthous Stomatitis (n=3 trials)
  • Behcet’s Disease (n=1)
  • Cancer (various) or Chemotherapy-induced Stomatitis (n=4)
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (n=1)
  • Common Cold (n=5)
  • Fibromyalgia Syndrome (n=2)
  • Healthy Volunteers (n=2)
  • Hepatitis B (n=7)
  • Hepatitis C (n=6)
  • HIV treatment (n=20)
  • HIV-related Xerostomia (n=1)
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (n=1)
  • Influenza (n=1)
  • Miscellaneous Liver Diseases (n=1)
  • Myeloproliferative Diseases (n=2)
  • Oral Warts in HIV+ Patients (n=3)
  • Sjögren’s Syndrome (n=8)


Oral IFN is Safe and Beneficial in Animals:

cattle . . . . . . . rotavirus, shipping fever, otitis media, East Coast Fever
horses . . . . . . inflammatory airway disease, West Nile virus, foal diarrhea
swine  . . . . . . transmissible gastroenteritis, rotavirus, Streptococcus suis, PRRS
cats . . . . . . . . feline leukemia, viral respiratory disease, rodent ulcer
dogs  . . . . . . . keratoconjunctivitis sicca, canine parvovirus, oral papilloma
poultry . . . . . . heat stress, viral infections, feather picking
rats . . . . . . . . arthritis, EAN, RSV, Wilson’s disease
mice  . . . . . . . EAE, CMV, diabetes, asthma, poxvirus, influenza
guinea pigs . . asthma, influenza


Beilharz, M.W., Cummins, M.J., Bennett, A.L., Cummins, J.M.
Oromucosal administration of interferon to humans
(2010) Pharmaceuticals, 3 (2), pp. 323-344. Cited 2 times.


Junaidi, A., Williamson, P.E., Martin, G.B., Stanton, P.G., Blackberry, M.A., Cummins, J.M., Trigg, T.E.
Pituitary and testicular endocrine responses to exogenous gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and luteinising hormone in male dogs treated with GnRH agonist implants
(2007) Reproduction, Fertility and Development, 19 (8), pp. 891-898. Cited 13 times.


Okabe, M., Cummins, J.M.
Mechanisms of sperm-egg interactions emerging from gene-manipulated animals
(2007) Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 64 (15), pp. 1945-1958. Cited 16 times.


Beilharz, M.W., Cummins, J.M., Bennett, A.L.
Protection from lethal influenza virus challenge by oral type 1 interferon
(2007) Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 355 (3), pp. 740-744. Cited 32 times.


Cummins, J.M., Krakowka, G.S., Thompson, C.G.
Systemic effects of interferons after oral administration in animals and humans
(2005) American Journal of Veterinary Research, 66 (1), pp. 164-176. Cited 30 times.


Cummins, J., Jequier, A.
(2004) Reproduction, Fertility and Development, 16 (5), .


Cummins, J.M.
The role of mitochondria in the establishment of oocyte functional competence
(2004) European Journal of Obstetrics Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 115 (SUPPL.), pp. S23-S29. Cited 32 times.


Rovio, A.T., Abel, J., Ahola, A.L., Andres, A.M., Bertranpetit, J., Blancher, A., Bontrop, R.E., Chemnick, L.G., Cooke, H.J., Cummins, J.M., Davis, H.A., Elliott, D.J., Fritsche, E., Hargreave, T.B., Hoffman, S.M.G., Jequier, A.M., Kao, S.-H., Kim, H.-S., Marchington, D.R., Mehmet, D., Otting, N., Poulton, J., Ryder, O.A., Schuppe, H.-C., Takenaka, O., Wei, Y.-H., Wichmann, L., Jacobs, H.T.
A prevalent POLG CAG microsatellite length allele in humans and African great apes
(2004) Mammalian Genome, 15 (6), pp. 492-502. Cited 16 times.


Cummins, J.M.
Introduction by guest editor: Mitochondria in reproduction
(2004) Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 8 (1), pp. 14-15. Cited 5 times.


Junaidi, A., Williamson, P.E., Cummins, J.M., Martin, G.B., Blackberry, M.A., Trigg, T.E.
Use of a new drug delivery formulation of the gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogue Deslorelin for reversible long-term contraception in male dogs
(2003) Reproduction, Fertility and Development, 15 (5-6), pp. 317-322. Cited 31 times.


Firman, R.C., Simmons, L.W., Cummins, J.M., Matson, P.L.
Are body fluctuating asymmetry and the ratio of 2nd to 4th digit length reliable predictors of semen quality?
(2003) Human Reproduction, 18 (4), pp. 808-812. Cited 30 times.


Franç, L.R., Russell, L.D., Cummins, J.M.
Is human spermatogenesis uniquely poor?
(2002) Annual Review of Biomedical Sciences, 4, pp. 19-40. Cited 4 times.


Fox, P.C., Cummins, M.J., Cummins, J.M.
A third study on the use of orally administered anhydrous crystalline maltose for relief of dry mouth in primary Sjögren’s syndrome
(2002) Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 8 (5), pp. 651-659. Cited 5 times.


Sutarno, J., Cummins, J.M., Greeff, J., Lymbery, A.J.
Mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms and fertility in beef cattle
(2002) Theriogenology, 57 (6), pp. 1603-1610. Cited 27 times.


Cummins, J.M.
The role of maternal mitochondria during oogenesis, fertilization and embryogenesis.
(2002) Reproductive biomedicine online, 4 (2), pp. 176-182. Cited 45 times.


Rovio, A.T., Marchington, D.R., Donat, S., Schuppe, H.-C., Abel, J., Fritsche, E., Elliott, D.J., Laippala, P., Ahola, A.L., McNay, D., Harrison, R.F., Hughes, B., Barrett, T., Bailey, D.M.D., Mehmet, D., Jequier, A.M., Hargreave, T.B., Kao, S.-H., Cummins, J.M., Barton, D.E., Cooke, H.J., Wei, Y.-H., Wichmann, L., Poulton, J., Jacobs, H.T.
Mutations at the mitochondrial DNA polymerase (POLG) locus associated with male infertility
(2001) Nature Genetics, 29 (3), pp. 261-262. Cited 112 times.


Cummins, J.
Mitochondrial DNA and the Y chromosome: Parallels and paradoxes
(2001) Reproduction, Fertility and Development, 13 (7-8), pp. 533-542. Cited 13 times.


Cummins, J.M.
Cytoplasmic inheritance and its implications for animal biotechnology
(2001) Theriogenology, 55 (6), pp. 1381-1399. Cited 23 times.


Mehmet, D., Ahmed, F., Cummins, J.M., Martin, R., Whelan, J.
Quantification of the common deletion in human testicular mitochondrial DNA by competitive PCR assay using a chimaeric competitor
(2001) Molecular Human Reproduction, 7 (3), pp. 301-306. Cited 5 times.


Cummins, J.M.
Mitochondria: Potential roles in embryogenesis and nucleocytoplasmic transfer
(2001) Human Reproduction Update, 7 (2), pp. 217-228. Cited 51 times.


Fox, P.C., Cummins, M.J., Cummins, J.M.
Use of orally administered anhydrous crystalline maltose for relief of dry mouth
(2001) Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 7 (1), pp. 33-43. Cited 9 times.


Ahmed, F.A., Jequier, A.M., Cummins, J.M., Whelan, J.
Differentially expressed DNA sequences following recovery from unilateral testicular torsion in rat
(2001) Biochimica et Biophysica Acta – Molecular Basis of Disease, 1535 (2), pp. 192-199. Cited 1 time.


Ahmed, F.A., Whelan, J., Jequier, A.M., Cummins, J.M.
Torsion-induced injury in rat testes does not affect mitochondrial respiration or the accumulation of mitochondrial mutations
(2000) International Journal of Andrology, 23 (6), pp. 347-356. Cited 5 times.


Cummins, J.M.
Fertilization and elimination of the paternal mitochondrial genome
(2000) Human Reproduction, 15 (SUPPL. 2), pp. 92-101. Cited 39 times.


Shiozawa, S., Cummins, J.M., Fox, P.C.
Opening the flood gates: Interferon-α treatment for Sjogren’s syndrome
(2000) BioDrugs, 13 (5), pp. 305-311. Cited 4 times.