Transfer Factor: New Research, New Hope
December 30, 2001
The use of transfer factor represents one of the most exciting advances in immune system health. Transfer factor is based on the theory that key immune information can be transferred from cell to cell. These cells then teach our immune system to recognize specific viruses or bacteria. This is particularly exciting given the therapeutic role transfer factors may play in activating and enhancing immunity to individuals suffering from chronic illness. This theory has been the subject of intense research for more than fifty years, producing a wide body of knowledge about transfer factor’s contribution to immune health.
Transfer Factor - Immunity through Memory
The immune system’s job is to recognize potentially harmful invaders, called pathogens, and then to destroy or neutralize them. If our bodies are able to immediately recognize a pathogen, the individual is able to effectively defend against viral, bacterial, fungal, and other diseases. Transfer factor molecules are the key to the immune system’s memory of past pathogen exposure, and thus, are an integral component for maintaining immune system integrity and effectiveness.
Transfer factors are tiny protein molecules, which are produced by immune cells called T cells. Transfer factors allow the immune system to remember conditions for which immunity has already been established.
When a person has been infected, for example, with chickenpox in childhood, the body develops a memory of that illness which prevents the person from becoming re-infected later in life. In the future, the specific immune transfer factor molecule for chickenpox will endow the immune system with the exact ‘blueprint’ of what chickenpox looks like, and the body will be able to quickly recognize and respond to any possible re-infection before it can cause disease.
Transfer Factor Targets Specific Viruses, Bacteria, Yeasts and Fungus
There are several million naturally occurring transfer factors circulating in the human body. However, a healthy body can still function even though it may be missing about 50,000 different transfer factors.
Many of these ‘immune memory molecules’ were introduced to us from our mother’s colostrum. This ‘first milk’ as it is called, is the richest source of concentrated transfer factors known to scientists. Transfer factor in colostrum has the sole purpose of transferring immunity from the mother to the baby’s immature immune system. This imparts the mother’s immunity to the baby to help ensure survival while the baby’ s immune system matures.
For individuals challenged by specific pathogens, whether known or unknown, supplementation with the appropriate transfer factor molecule may provide the ‘missing link’, thereby allowing the immune system to target and destroy the offending pathogen and mitigate the symptoms of the disease. Chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic candidiasis, Burkitts Lymphoma, post-lyme syndrome, HIV infection, and multiple sclerosis are produced by various pathogens.
What is the source of Transfer Factor?
All mammals produce transfer factor, however scientists prefer to work with bovine (cow) colostrum. A healthy cow already produces millions of different transfer factors, but when the cow does come into contact with a pathogen such as a virus, it produces a new transfer factor for that specific virus or pathogen.
Transfer factor is able to pass through the stomach unharmed by digestive enzymes and stomach acids. The calf is then able to easily absorb this immune memory molecule, which gives it immunity to all the same pathogens as the calf’s mother. This inherited immunity will protect the baby from the same disease-causing organisms the mother was protected against.
Transfer factor crosses mammalian species lines. When a person absorbs transfer factor from a cow’s colostrum the person develops resistance to the pathogen to which the cow was exposed.
How is Transfer Factor Produced for Human Consumption?
Due to practical considerations in the manufacturing and processing of transfer factor, bovine colostrum is the preferred source of transfer factor. It is the easiest colostrum to procure in quantity and it produces significant amounts of various transfer factors.
Colostrum from healthy, organically-fed cows is filtered and purified to provide a mixture of pure transfer factor molecules. Numerous rigorous techniques including further purification and isolation result in pure transfer factor. Every lot produced undergoes rigorous testing, to ensure that the appropriate and effective levels of each transfer factor are present, before it is encapsulated and bottled.
Also, people who are lactose intolerant or who have allergies need not be concerned about a reaction since all traces of milk proteins and lactose are removed during the extraction and concentration process.
When to Use Transfer Factor
How will a person know if transfer factor will be beneficial for him/her? It is important to be tested for a variety of different pathogens, to determine potential causative factors. If the test comes back positive, the patient should discuss the use of transfer factors with his/her physician. Certain conditions, for example, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, may be triggered by a variety of pathogens. Research has indicated that several viruses may be playing a causative role. These include several members of the herpes virus family, all known to establish life-long residence in the infected individual. Many published clinical and research studies have indicated that there may be some relationships or involvement in CFS with the following pathogens: Herpes Virus Six (varients 6A and 6B), Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), and Cytomegalovirus (CMV).
Transfer factor will not remove or ‘cure’ the problem in itself; rather transfer factor works to assist and support normal immune system functioning. At the onset individuals typically begin with a high dose and then eventually taper down to a minimum maintenance dose.
The main drawback of transfer factor is its cost. The highly complex technology which ensures that the cow contains the appropriate cross-species transfer factor molecules (as discussed above), as well as manufacturing, purifying, and testing each lot for the desired transfer factor activity, combine to make this very specialized product an expensive treatment option.
Furthermore, several months of product usgae are frequently required before the individual begins to experience an enhanced immune system, which may increase the expense and require a ‘wait and see’ approach.
There may also be an initial reaction to transfer factor, as the immune system begins to recognize and respond to pathogens that it was formerly unable to recognize. This will cause immune system activation that can result in an increase in body temperature and flu-like symptoms. Clinicians experienced in transfer factor therapy recognize this as a normal reaction that is characteristic of other products that can impact the immune system, such as whey protein.
Over Fifty Years of Research into Transfer Factor
Over fifty years of research, producing more than 3,000 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, confirms transfer factor’s ability to support the body’s immune system response mechanism.
Transfer factor’s significance as immune system support is underscored by the fact that an independent committee of researchers, scientists and doctors, formed a professional organization dedicated to the study of transfer factor. The International Transfer Factor Society (ITFS), is comprised of world-renowned medical experts such as Giancarlo Pizza, M.D. of Italy, Dimitri Viza, M.D. of France, and Paul H. Levine, M.D. of the United States. We invite you to visit their Internet site (see links as the bottom of page) to review the published studies.
Transfer Factors on the Market?
Several transfer products have recently been introduced, each with a different focus or specificity.
ImmuneTransfer C and ImmunFactor 2 These products contain the widest range of antigen specific transfer factors in one product. These are designed for enhanced activity for Human Herpes Virus 6 (HHV-6B), Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Chlamydia pneunmoniae, and Borrelia burgdorferi (cell-wall deficient Lyme), Babesia, and Erlichia.
Formula 560 This product contains enhanced activity for HHV-6, (both A and B varieties). Formula 560 is supported by a patent on the process for obtaining transfer factor from colostrum.
Formula 540 This product contains enhanced activity for Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). Formula 540 is supported by a patent on the process for obtaining transfer factor from colostrum.
Transfer Factor XF and Transfer Factor Plus For individuals seeking only to improve overall immunity without targeting specific viruses, these products contain only the general transfer factors found in the colostrum, and do not include transfer factors for any targeted pathogens such as HHV-6, EBV, CMV etc.
None of these products is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.