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Transfer Factor-- New Era for Immune Therapy?

  [ 31 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Tamara Schuit • • July 5, 2000

Transfer Factor (TF) is based on the theory that key immune information can be transferred from cell to cell. This assumption suggests that an immune response can be transferred via TF from a host – a human or animal that has been exposed to a particular virus or bacteria – to a recipient who has not been exposed. These cells then teach our immune system to recognize specific viruses or bacteria.

To better understand TF, it is helpful to understand how our immune system fights its many battles – battles we may not even be aware of.

Our immune system recognizes what should and should not be in our bodies. If our immune system had an extremely high “cell memory,” it would be able to recognize several million foreign substances. However, just as our memory may begin to deteriorate over time, so does cell memory. This can be caused by a number of factors, including age, disease, immune cell defects, and stress.

But it is this memory that greatly speeds up the response to pathogens that have been previously encountered. When new pathogens are encountered, the immune system mounts a primary response during which it learns everything about the pathogen. But this primary response can take some time to clear the infection, during which we get and remain sick. If we are reinfected with a previously encountered pathogen, our cell memory kicks in to mount a very specific and rapid attack against it. This secondary response is so quick and efficient that we are not even aware that we have been reinfected.

Researchers note that the original TF happens during infancy and comes from colostrum, the substance that mothers produce just after giving birth and before the milk comes in. Colostrum provides newborns with TFs and antibodies from the mother to resist infection and disease.

Current methods and products involve TFs that have been obtained by host animals purposely exposed to certain viruses and bacteria to achieve a specific immune responses. Depending on what source the animal has been exposed to, TF products have been said to help support the immune function in people affected with Epstein-Barr, HIV, viruses, bacteria, as well as health conditions including chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and hepatitis.

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