Antibacterial Property of Interferon-beta

Tech ID: und000509



Scientists at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have discovered a method of using human or mouse interferon beta to treat bacterial infections, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). 


Technology Description

• About two out of every 100 people carry a strain of staph that is resistant to antibiotics, also known as MRSA. MRSA is tougher to treat than most strains of Staphylococcus aureus due to this resistance to some commonly used antibiotics. Most often it causes mild infections on the skin resulting in sores or boils. It can also cause more serious skin infections or infect surgical wounds, the bloodstream, the lungs, or the urinary tract. Though most MRSA infections are not serious, some can be life-threatening.

• Bacteria rapidly evolve resistance to new antibiotics as they become widely used, and certain types of bacteria are becoming so resistant to standard antibiotics that treatment alternatives are dwindling. Thus, clinicians and industry are always looking for novel antimicrobial/antibacterial drugs. Accordingly, new treatment options are needed for these types of bacterial infections as well as others.

• Interferon-β (IFNβ) is a cytokine (protein) in the interferon family. While initially discovered and investigated for its activity in stimulating cells to kill viruses, recombinant IFNβ has become a highly successful pharmaceutical used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS).

• Dr. Underhill and colleagues at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have discovered that in addition to the existing effects known, IFNβ has intrinsic activity as an antimicrobial agent. It can directly kill gram-positive bacteria, such as S. aureus, methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA), or Staphylococcus epidermis.

• Although IFNβ has been studied for years, its direct antimicrobial activity has not been previously described. Since the protein is already produced as a highly successful drug, production hurdles have been addressed and safety has been established.



• The technology can be developed into new use of existing interferon beta drugs.


Intellectual Property

US patent 8,936,782 granted.



• Kaplan et al. Failure to Induce IFN-β Production during Staphylococcus aureus Infection Contributes to Pathogenicity. J Immunol. 2012, 189 (9): 4537-4545. [LINK]

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Wenyue Du
Senior Associate - IP Management & Licensing
David Underhill
George Liu
Amber Kaplan
Infectious Diseases