The Story of Transfer Factor
Transfer factors are small chains of amino acids and bits of RNA that carry important information from immune system cells to other immune system cells. They are like post-it notes that deliver disease-related details to cells throughout the body. Existing and newborn immune system cells come across these post-it notes, read them, and then get to work. The information includes what threats to look out for (bacteria, viruses, parasites, or even cancer cells), what to do about them, and when to stop doing it.
Transfer factors were originally discovered in the late 1940s by a tuberculosis researcher named Dr. H Sherwood Lawrence. While searching for a way to protect people from tuberculosis, Dr. Lawrence took white blood cells from a sick patient and injected the insides of the cells into a healthy person. As a result, the healthy person became immune to tuberculosis! Dr. Lawrence had no way of knowing what, exactly, conveyed immunity, so he simply referred to it as “Transfer Factor”.
In the decades since Dr. Lawrence’s discovery, several important events have taken place which have led to the sudden availability of transfer factors to the public:
In the 1989, two researchers, Dr, Gary Wilson and Dr. Greg Paddock perfected what was to become a patented filtration process for the extraction of transfer factors from cow colostrum. Through this extraction technique, pure transfer factors can be collected in concentrated form, dried and then encapsulated for human consumption.
In 1991,Dr. Sherwood’s work is validated.
In the 1998, 4Life Research purchased the patent, added a patent for a technique for extracting transfer factors from chicken eggs, and began selling products containing transfer factors to the public. These products are protected by the US Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994
In 1999,The effectiveness and safety of Transfer Factor supplementation was validated by scores of clinical studies worldwide.
To recap, transfer factors were discovered in 1949 when a researcher used white blood cells from an infected human to immunize a healthy person. But now we are able to extract transfer factor from cow’s colostrum and chicken egg yolk making is available for public consumption. How did we get from humans to cows and chickens, and why would that work? It turns out that transfer factors are neither person nor species specific, meaning that transfer factors generated by a human, a cow, a dog, or even a chicken can be interchanged. They are like computer files written in basic machine code, making them readable by any kind of computer. Transfer factors represent a universal language that can be used to directly control immune system activity.
The fact that transfer factors can be mass produced and are now available to the public is extremely important. Perhaps the only thing more important is the possibility that designer transfer factors could be made for diseases like the H5N1 strain of birth flu, as suggested by Dr. Pizza and his colleagues. If a cow or chicken were injected with the H5NI virus, information about the virus would be contained in the colostrum or eggs produced by the animal. They could be taken orally by humans – no injection needed – and should, theoretically at least, prevent an H5N1 pandemic.
Transfer factors are not drugs and do not directly attack diseases. They are supplements that augment immune system activity so that the immune system can attack diseases. They do so safely with minimal side effect — even when injected into people — beyond mild flu like symptoms that generally occur within the first few weeks of use. No serious complications have been reported in any of the hundreds of papers on the topic.
Transfer factors work very differently than pharmaceuticals drugs. Rather than suppressing the immune system, or aiming at mechanisms used by particular pathogens to survive, transfer factors help the immune system take care of itself using a language that it understands inherently. Boosting the immune system increases the odds that people can heal themselves, particularly if transfer factors designed for specific pathogens are used. Again, they work by helping the immune system do its job. This is part of what makes them supplements rather than drugs.
Let’s look at an example. In clinical trials, transfer factors have been found to be superior to the drug acyclovir for preventing shingles outbreaks. Only one of the two treatments, transfer factors, was found to boost immune system health. Acyclovir aims at the virus itself. This is fine, as long as your problem is just that virus and not the virus plus a weak immune system. Indeed, advertisements for the antiviral drug, Valtrex, which is converted to acyclovir in the body, indicate that the drug is only for those with healthy immune systems. Many people dealing with reoccurrences of viruses, like the herpes virus that causes shingles, are doing so precisely because their immune systems are unhealthy!
To summarize, transfer factors are small molecules generated by immune cells after dealing with threats. They are not species specific, meaning that transfer factors generated by a cow’s or chicken’s immune system can be read by our immune systems. Once they enter our bodies, they are picked up and read by immune cells, which then follow the instructions and go to work. They are not drugs, but supplements that help the immune system do its job rather than directly attacking pathogens. This makes them quite different from many pharmaceutical drugs, including antibiotics, that directly attack disease causing pathogens without nurturing the immune system in any way.
For years, transfer factors have been quietly revolutionizing disease treatment and prevention. They allow the body to heal itself, safely.
Beyond antibiotics — Using transfer factors to help defeat common ailments and orphaned diseases, prevent pandemics and boost general health by strengthening the immune system. Too good to be true?
Aaron White, PhD
We are coming to the end of a golden era in medicine, one in which we can count on antibiotics to cure nasty bacterial infections and outbreaks of all but a few potentially deadly viruses have been contained. Unfortunately, drug resistant strains of bacteria have been springing up faster than you can say “gonorrhea ” and everyone agrees that viral pandemics are just a matter of time. It is becoming clear that we have underestimated the role of viruses, and viral-like forms of bacteria (mycoplasma), in everything from cancer to chronic joint pain. We have also underestimated the importance of a healthy immune system in preventing and beating current and emerging threats. In a way, this is good news, as real progress can now begin. While drug company researchers work on novel drugs to sell, one of our best hopes for the future of disease treatment and prevention might rest in a discovery made more than 50 years ago – something called transfer factors. Transfer factors are short strands of amino acids and RNA that can tell newly born immune cells what to go after, how to do it, and when to stop. Researchers have figured out how to make custom transfer factors for essentially any disease with an identifiable pathogen. They can be used to treat patients infected with anything from herpes to hepatitis and protect those yet to be exposed. In this review, we will discuss the discovery of transfer factors, research regarding their potential value in disease treatment and prevention, and examine unanswered questions regarding how and when to use them.
The immune system consists of a powerful army of cells that wander around our bodies and brains, looking for potentially disease-causing visitors, whether they are viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites. Once found, these unwanted guests are destroyed or corralled so that the harm they cause is minimized. Cells that detect foreign invaders either destroy them or send for backup. Other cells move to the area to help wage war against them. Newly created immune system cells are recruited as soldiers in the wars. They are given instructions about what to go after, how to recognize it, how to defeat it, and when to stop. This story plays itself out everyday inside of our bodies. We only become aware of the battles once they get ferocious enough to affect how we think and feel.
|A brief history of disease treatment from the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO)
In a fantastic overview of disease causing microbes and how they have been treated across the ages. Dr. Gro Harlem Brundland, former Director-General of the WHO, offers the following timeline (attributed to anonymous):
2000BC – Here, eat this root.
Overcoming Antimicrobial Resistance World Health Report on infectious Diseases 2000. Message From the Director-General, WHO Accessed December 13,2006.
The discovery of antibiotics and transfer factor
Several very important discoveries regarding immune system functioning and health have been made in the past 100 years. In general, the emphasis has rested on finding substances that can directly attack invaders, as is the case with antibiotics and many antiviral drugs. Less emphasis has been placed on ways to help the individual’s own immune system deal with foreign threats. Let’s begin by looking at two such important discoveries – antibiotics and transfer factors – and discuss how these discoveries have affected the way that we deal with disease, and the roles they will likely play in the future of medicine.
In 1928, in a laboratory in London , Alexander Fleming observed that a common species of mold known as Penicillium was capable of killing bacteria in Petri dishes. By all accounts, Dr. Fleming didn’t intend to discover an antibiotic. He returned to his lab after some time away and found that the bacteria he was culturing didn’t grow within a narrow zone around the fringes of a pesky mold that contaminated his samples. He probably wasn’t the first to observe this phenomenon, but he was the first to pursue an understanding of just how the mold prevented bacterial growth. Dr. Fleming identified the component of the mold with antibacterial properties and labeled it, “penicillin”. It would be another 15 years – during the 1940s — before researchers realized the full potential of penicillin and figured out how to turn Dr. Fleming’s discovery into a mass production treatment for disease. And so began an era in which rates of death due to minor infections and communicable bacteria plummeted.
In 1949, at a time when penicillin and the sulfa drugs, antibiotics developed in Germany , were gaining reputations as life savers, a tuberculosis researcher named Dr. H Sherwood Lawrence made another important discovery in disease management. He extracted intracellular fluid from white blood cells in patients who had been exposed to tuberculosis (TB). He then injected the contents of these cells into non-exposed patients. In doing so, he protected them from contracting TB. He called the mystery components “transfer factor”, as they somehow transferred immunity from one patient to the next.
At the time that transfer factors were discovered our understanding of disease states was quite limited and the ability to extract transfer factors for use in treatment beyond single cases was not available. The miraculous effects of antibiotics were becoming widely known at the time and they took center stage. Fifty years later, with improvements in our understanding of disease states and vast improvements in technology, transfer factors have now emerged on the scene as potentially powerful weapons against disease – including diseases resistant to, or untouchable by, antibiotics.
Immunologists suspect that transfer factors are small chains of amino acids and bits of RNA that contain the instructions that the immune system uses to recognize and fight foreign invaders and cancer cells. As new immune cells are born, they pick up transfer factors and read them like notes left by immune cells before them. Each time a person becomes ill and their immune system learns how to battle a pathogen, transfer factors are created and are used the next time around to make the battle against the pathogen more efficient.
|Heart disease and immune system health – Could viruses and bacteria cause heart problems and stroke in some people?
According to recent information from the American Heart Association, infectious disease could be the culprits underlying heart disease and strokes in many people:
‘No one knows for sure what causes the low-grade inflammation that seems to put otherwise healthy people at risk. However, the new findings are consistent with the hypothesis that an infection – possibly one caused by bacteria or a virus – might contribute to or even cause atherosclerosis
Research on transfer factors
In the last half-century, dozens of published studies have examined the ability of transfer factors to treat and prevent diseases. Many of them have been wildly successful while others have failed miserably.
Ingenious technological advances have rendered the use of human white blood cells on a study-by-study basis unnecessary. This should allow for rapid advances in the development of standardized protocols for utilizing transfer factors in disease management. Researchers at 4Life Research that is providing transfer factors to the public have taken advantage of the fact that transfer factors are present in colostrum, the first fluid released from a breast after child birth. This is true in humans, cows, and other mammals. They are also present inside of chicken eggs. When ingested by the offspring, transfer factors pass along instructions for the offspring’s immune system. They also stimulate the production of Natural Killer cells, white blood cells always on the prowl for foreign invaders and capable of destroying them without involving the rest of the immune system.
Despite variability in methodologies and outcomes, decades of research on transfer factors compels the assertion that transfer factors could be as important as antibiotics for battling disease. Antibiotics only target bacteria. Transfer factors can help the body fight bacteria, as well as viruses and even cancer cells. They work by bolstering an individual’s own immune system so that it can deal with unwanted guests. They do not attack diseases directly and can only improve health by helping the body do what it’s already doing. As such, they fall comfortably within the category of supplements.
Transfer factors can now be custom made to assist the body in dealing with specific, hard to treat pathogens – like oral and genital herpes, shingles, cell wall deficient Lyme (a bacteria that can invade immune cells and act like a virus), Epstein Barr (which causes mononucleosis), cytomegalovirus, HIV and others. The true value of this treatment modality is yet to be determined. However, if the past is any guide, the future could be quite bright for this strategy and for those suffering from a long list of diseases for which modern medicine currently offers little hope.
|If transfer factors have that much potential in medicine, why haven’t we heard more about them?
A search of the World Health Organization website on December 13,2006, for the term ‘transfer factor’ revealed zero accurate hits. This show that medical dogma is slow to change. Transfer factors were discovered at a time when the magic of antibiotics was just being realized (late 1940s). Bacteria, and effects of antibiotics against them are easy to see. Viral ailments are much harder to understand, This, combined with the fact that the technology for extracting transfer factors for use in medicine beyond a case by case basis wasn’t available, led to a quiet celebration for their discovery. That is, until recently. Researchers have since figured out how to do two amazing things with transfer factors – extract them from cow colostrum (first milk) and chicken eggs, and create transfer factors for specific disease states, like herpes viruses and Lyme. When ingested, transfer factors tell a person’s immune system what to go after, how to do it and when to stop. It’s a safe assumption we’ll be hearing more and more about transfer factor as time goes by – but hold your breath!
Let’s look at a few of the bright spots in the research literature.
1. When made to help the immune system fight against strains of the herpes virus, transfer factors were found to be superior to acyclovir, an antiviral drug sold by drug companies (Estrada-Parra et al., 1998)
2. Transfer factors diminish the number of relapses of genital herpes (Pizza et al, 1996)
3. Transfer factors help AIDS patients beat cryptosporidium, a common stomach ailment in this population (McMeeking et al, 1990)
4. Transfer factors lead to a reduction in the size of glioblastomas, the most common type of cancerous tumors in the brain and spinal cord. (Pineda et al., 2005)
Transfer factors and orphaned disease states like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, post-Lyme and Fibromyalgia
Currently, in addition to well-known and aggressively treated ailments like cancer, members of the public and the doctors that treat them are wrestling with a long list of diseases that are poorly understood and for which no current, effective treatment paradigms exist. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Lyme disease is caused by a tick born bacteria. If caught early, it can usually be eradicated by traditional antibiotic therapy. However, if not caught early, and even in some cases where it is, many patients go on to develop troubling and persistent problems – like arthritis, facial palsies, intermittent flu-like symptoms, and others. Once this occurs, even IV antibiotics can be ineffective at bringing patients relief. In all likelihood, this has to do with the fact that the Lyme spirochete can shed its cell wall and set up shop inside of host cells, including immune cells. They take on a form called mycoplasma and begin to function more like viruses than bacteria.
Another so-called orphaned disease state is Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS). Anyone who has suffered from this syndrome — characterized by cognitive impairments that can reach frightening intensity (brain fog), widespread physical discomfort, dizziness upon standing, aching fatigue, widespread back pain, poor sleep and other symptoms — has probably learned the hard way that Western medicine is currently impotent at dealing with this condition, as well as related conditions like fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis.
As we will see in a later section, pharmaceutical drugs for immune conditions often suppress the immune system, leading to temporary relief of symptoms but setting patients up for a progression of the underlying pathology and perhaps making them much worse in the long run! See Amgen and Wyeth’s warnings about their immuno-suppressor, Enbrel, in the section on “Disease Prevention”. According to the company, taking the self-injected drug Enbrel for arthritis can lead to multiple sclerosis and a host of scary side effects. Similarly, cortisol-like products, including Prednisone, bring relief from inflammation by suppressing the immune system, setting the patient up for a laundry list of other disease states.
The current lapse in judgment on the part of MDs treating these conditions is reminiscent of what happened in the early 20th century when the American Medical Association (AMA) still recommended alcohol as a first line treatment for snake bites. Indeed, use of alcohol as a medicine was one of the reasons that the AMA opposed prohibition. There are several reports of doctors treating snake bite patients with increasing doses of alcohol until the point of death, only to blame the death on a failure to successfully treat the patient’s snake bite. Suppressing the immune system, even at the risk of death, in order to treat symptoms of immune flare up rather than getting at the underlying pathology causing the immune flare up is equally misguided in my opinion.
In many cases, it appears that CFIDS sufferers — as well as MS sufferers, those with fibromyalgia and post-Lyme or post-viral sydromes — exhibit weaknesses in immune system functioning, perhaps combined with chronic activation of some aspects of the immune system. Weaknesses in the immune system place some sufferers at risk for becoming infested with pathogens. Chronic activation of the immune system, presumably in an effort to deal with these pathogens, could explain symptoms like diffuse back pain, lethargy, depression, anxiety, and fatigue (see the subsequent section on immune system activation and psychological well-being). In patients that fit this profile, transfer factors have the potential to work wonders. In a very small number of clinical trials, transfer factors have been found to be effective for some sufferers of CFIDS – but, importantly, not others.
A recent report by Dr. Nancy Klimas, a highly respected researcher and one of the world’s foremost authorities on CFIDS, and her colleagues suggests that female sufferers can be sorted according to Natural Killer cell levels (Seigel et al., 2006). Those with below normal levels tend to exhibit greater levels of cognitive dysfunction, reduced drive, and greater difficulties functioning during the day. It seems logical to postulate that subjects in this subgroup might be particularly good candidates for benefiting from the Natural Killer cell-enhancing effects of transfer factors.
Relative to controls, a larger percentage of sufferers of CFIDS test positive for active infections with HHV6 (one of eight strains of the herpes virus). This virus is also present in the vast majority of sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) who exhibit a pattern of relapses and remissions, suggesting possible immunodeficiency in sufferers of this syndrome, as well. While these viruses, and the immune activation that follows, probably cause many of the symptoms of CFIDS , MS and other conditions, these infections are primarily symptomatic of some more basic, underlying problem in the individual. The nature of the underlying problem varies from person to person, but immune system dysfunction seems to be a common denominator. The role that transfer factors could play in correcting these abnormalities is becoming more apparent as time goes on.
The study confirms the link between CFIDS and herpes viruses and demonstrates that dealing with the viruses can improve the lives of those who are ill.
Boosting immune system health could improve psychological well-being, while immune dysfunction could underlay many psychiatric conditions
|The CDC finally creates a website about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The Centers for Disease Control finally created a webpage about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, more commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, during the fall of 2006. The introduction begins with the following:
Post-exertional malaise in CFIDS
Post-exertional malaise effectively traps CFIDS patients and confines the to light duties, if those are possible.
Research has begun to elucidate the relationship between immune system health and general feelings of well-being. Researchers in Israel examined the psychological well-being of teenage girls vaccinated for the rubella virus, a common cause of illness in kids. This process involves injecting portions of the virus into the body so that the immune system can learn to recognize it and protect the person against it if it is ever encountered out there in the world. Following such vaccinations, the immune system can become acutely active, making people feel ill. Those that became slightly ill also became slightly depressed! In the words of the authors, many of the vaccinated girls “showed a significant rise in several standard measures of depressed mood, as well as an increased incidence of social and attention problems and delinquent behavior… Thus, even a mild viral infection can produce a prolonged increase in depressive symptoms in vulnerable persons.”
The same group of researchers took their investigations into the relationship between immune system health and psychological functioning one step further. They injected small portions of the cell walls from bacteria into subjects, a technique commonly used to evoke an immune response in humans in order to assess immune system health. Even though the injected material caused no physical symptoms “The subjects showed a transient substantial increase in levels of anxiety and depressed mood. In addition, verbal and nonverbal memory functions were substantially impaired.”
Another study of mood in young females after rubella vaccination found similar results (Yirmaya et al., 2000). In the words of the study authors, “compared to control group subjects and to their own baseline, a subgroup of vulnerable individuals (girls from low socioeconomic status) showed a significant virus-induced increase in depressed mood up to 10 weeks after vaccination.”
Similar findings have been observed when subjects are injected with cytokines, molecules released as part of the body’s immune response. Researchers at the University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana argue that cytokines cause many of the symptoms of illness by acting directly in the brain. Here’s what they had to say in a recent paper (Dantzer and Kelley, 2006).
any psychiatric conditions
Cytokines “act in the brain to induce common symptoms of sickness, such as loss of appetite, sleepiness, withdrawal from normal social activities, fever, aching joints and fatigue. The fact that cytokines act in the brain to induce physiological adaptations that promote survival has led to the hypothesis that inappropriate, prolonged activation of the innate immune system may be involved in a number of pathological disturbances in the brain, ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to stroke. Indeed, the newest findings of cytokine actions in the brain offer some of the first clues about the pathophysiology of certain mental health disorders, including depression.”
Interestingly, antidepressants suppress production of some cytokines (Diamond et al., 2006) and have been found to reduce the symptoms of cytokine-induced depression (Yirmaya et al., 2000; Chiung-Wen Tsao et al., 2006).
And so, it appears that activity within the immune system can have a big impact on how otherwise healthy people think and feel. It therefore makes sense that a healthy immune system contributes to psychological health and well-being.
The immune system also seems to play a role in many major psychiatric disorders. Researchers have long speculated that there are links between immune system health and psychiatric conditions. Studies performed decades ago suggest that exposure to certain strains of the flu virus during the third trimester of pregnancy increase the likelihood that offspring will develop schizophrenia.
A new category of pediatric ailments called PANDAS includes sudden onset tick disorders and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and appears to be caused by an autoimmune reaction. Specifically, immune cells seeking the strep bacteria attack brain cells in an area called the basal ganglia. It is possible that transfer factors could be engineered to help balance the immune system in these individuals, perhaps leading to a diminution of symptom intensity.
With regard to immune system health and psychiatric conditions, Sperner-Unterweger (2005) states the following:
“ Treatment strategies based on immune mechanisms have been investigated in patients with schizophrenia and affective disorders. Furthermore, some antipsychotics and most antidepressants are known to have direct or indirect effects on the immune system. Different immunotherapies have been used in autism, including transfer factor, pentoxifylline, intravenous immunoglobins and corticosteriods. Immunosuppressive and/or immunomodulating agents are well established methods for treating the neuropsychiatric sequelae of immune or autoimmune disorders, for example AIDS and SLE. Therapeutic approaches in Alzheimer’s disease also apply immunological methods such as strategies of active/passive immunisation and NSAIDs. Considering the comprehensive interactive network between mind and body, future research should focus on approaches linking targets of the different involved systems.”
And with regard to the etiology and treatment of autism, Kidd (2002) tells us:
“Autism and allied autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) present myriad behavioral, clinical, and biochemical abnormalities… Immune therapies (pentoxifyllin, intravenous immunoglobulin, transfer factor, and colostrum) benefit selected cases… Current pharmaceuticals fail to benefit the primary symptoms and can have marked adverse effects. Individualized, in-depth clinical and laboratory assessments and integrative parent-physician-scientist cooperation are the keys to successful ASD management”
An immune system link would certainly help explain the increasing rates of autism. According to the Autism Society of America (www.autism-society.org), rates of the disorder are growing at roughly 10-17% per year. According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, researchers at UC-Davis estimated in 2003 that California was:
“…adding an average of 11 names a day to its list of severely autistic children qualifying for state-financed services. The average lifetime cost of these educational services is $4 million per child. As a result, the increase in children eligible for services represents an increase in the state’s long-term financial responsibility of $44 million a day.”
Who knows what the underlying culprit is, but the potential to make progress in the treatment of the disorder by putting funding into the immune system link seems worth considering.
|Laughter and Immune system health
Researchers at the Indianan State School of Nursing have reported that having cancer patients view humorous programs leads to increase in Natural Killer cell levels. In their words, ‘Laughter may reduce stress and improve NK cell activity. As low NK cell activity is liked to decreased disease resistance and increased morbidity in persons with cancer and HIV disease, laughter may be a useful cognitive-behavioral intervention.” (Bennett et al.,2003)
Transfer factors and autoimmune conditions—wouldn’t activating the immune system make these conditions worse?
Autoimmune conditions are those in which an over-eager immune system attacks tissues that actually belong in the “self” category rather than the “other” category. The consequences depend on where the attacked cells are and what they do. On the surface, it seems that doing anything that provokes immune system activity might make such conditions worse. Yet, transfer factors have been recommended for, and found to be effective at treating, several putative autoimmune conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis (Georgscu, 1985). Mixed evidence exists for their use in treating Multiple Sclerosis (Barsten, 1980). How does this work? Transfer factors balances immune system functioning and regulate autoimmune responses. That means Transfer Factor helps your immune system to attack the foreign invaders by feeding it with the recognition codes and calls back the army once the job is done. And with the discovering of “NanoFactors” by 4life Research. The Tri-Factor formula with a higher content of nano factors helps to fine tune the balancing or regulating effect on the immune system. Decades ago, Hughes (1983) reported on efforts to combat Multiple Sclerosis, a putative autoimmune condition, by either suppressing or activating the immune system. Immune system activation, including the use of transfer factors, seemed to be superior, which defies logic when a simplistic view of the immune system is used.
Potential future uses of transfer factors
In the future, there’s a chance this biotech product will be used to help sick patients corral viruses like HIV, which causes AIDS. Several studies, all plagued by methodological limitations of one kind or another, have examined the potential utility of transfer factors in the treatment of HIV. Several have found promising results, particularly when transfer factors were combined with standard antiviral drugs. With the advent of potent, stable preparations of transfer factors from cows and chickens, it should be possible for the real work to begin. Hopefully, in the near future, researchers will attempt to attack the HIV virus using aggressive, well-planned dosing regimens of transfer factors raised against the HIV virus in cows and chickens. If strategies used in the past yielded positive outcomes, better findings should be possible now. Time will tell.
One of the truly appealing aspects of using transfer factors for disease treatment and prevention is that it circumvents the need to involve the traditional pharmaceutical companies. Transfer factors are made to provide alternatives to standard drug company treatment modalities. The products fall well within the bounds of being considered supplements under the DSHEA of 1994 and the company make absolutely no claims about the effectiveness of these amino acid sequences in treating diseases. Nothing stands in the way of private foundations purchasing and distributing transfer factors to populations that could benefit from them, including some sufferers of Lyme, CFIDS, MS, Fibromyalagia, HIV/AIDS and other conditions.There are no guarantees that transfer factors would help such folks, but the safety margin and cost effectiveness, combined with the potential to improve the quality of life of those suffering from chronic, immune system-related ailments warrants consideration. The product cost about as much as a good multivitamin and is safe.
|Enbrel as an example of how drug companies tend to approach immune dysfunction
Enbrel is an injectable immunosuppresor advertised on television for the treatment of arthritis. Clearly, drugs like this can be of benefit for some people. For the purpose of this text box, it serves as are example of the fact that conditions involving immune system dysfunction can be attacked on a variety of levels. Improvements can occur through two very different strategies – getting rid of the underlying source of immune system activation, or through suppressing the chronically activated immune system. Enbrel does the latter.
‘What important information do I need to know about taking ENBREL?
Transfer factors in disease prevention
In addition to helping patients beat diseases they have already contracted, transfer factors could be used in ways similar to traditional vaccines, protecting people against diseases before they’ve been exposed to them. Indeed, that is how they were used in the first place when discovered by Dr. Lawrence in the 1940s.
Researchers in China speculate that transfer factors will be useful in treating and preventing hepatitis B (Xu YP et al., 2006). Researchers in Italy recently made a similar argument for the use of transfer factors in preventing and treating newly emerging strains of bird flu. According to the authors (Pizza et al., 2006):
“Avian influenza…presents a threat of producing a pandemic. The consensus is that the occurrence of such a pandemic is only a matter of time. This is of great concern, since no effective vaccine is available or can be made before the occurrence of the event. We present arguments for the use of cell mediated immunity for the prevention of the infection as well as for the treatment of infected patients. Transfer factor (TF)…has been used successfully over the past quarter of a century for treating viral, parasitic, and fungal infections, as well as immunodeficiencies, neoplasias, allergies and autoimmune diseases. Moreover, several observations suggest that it can be utilized for prevention, transferring immunity prior to infection…Thus, a specific TF to a new influenza virus can be made swiftly and used for prevention as well as for the treatment of infected patients.”
Availability of transfer factors
No matter what one makes of transfer factors, it is truly a remarkable development that researchers have figured out how to mass produce them—from cow colostrums and chicken eggs, no less! — and that a non-pharmaceutical company have brought them to the public.
For the time being, and for as long as drug companies and the FDA stay within their bounds, and as long as the World Trade Organization doesn’t succeed in forcing member states to put more constraints on their supplement industries, transfer factors are available as supplements. Some are generic – they boost immune system functioning in general, particularly Natural Killer cell levels. Others are specific or targeted – they contain transfer factors that carry instructions that could help the immune system locate and destroy specific pathogens, like herpes viruses.
Transfer factors appear to be very safe to take, with few adverse reactions reported in any of the clinical studies in which they have been used. Many users experience mild flu-like symptoms at some point within the first month of treatment. This is generally taken as a good sign – an indication that the immune system working. Symptoms of illness often worsen before improving in those people for whom transfer factors work. This has traditionally been seen as part of the healing process. If a person feels ill because their immune systems are chronically activated yet incapable of destroying the disease causing agent. Then jacking up the immune system so that it can make a push to get rid of the pathogen is certain to make some people feel more ill on their way to feeling better. This is one of the paradoxical effects of recovery from viral illnesses for some people — feeling better and worse at the same time.
Many antiviral and even antibacterial drugs pushed by drug companies cannot boast similar safety profiles. Some anti-virals are known cause liver failure, and serious side effects from antibiotics are more common than many might realize.
Transfer Factors are currently manufactured and sold by 4Life Research.
|Transfer factors and food allergies
Transfer factors are extracted from cows colostrums and chicken eggs. What about people who are allergic to both for some reason? The components of milk and eggs that might cause allergies are all filtered out.
The size of transfer factors and their absorption following oral administration
Transfer factors, growth hormones, and other important constituents of colostrums are swallowed by infants and absorbed intact via the digestive system. However, the digestive systems of newborns are not complete, creating a window of opportunity for getting these things in.
Of import is whether the short-chains of amino acids that comprise transfer factors are absorbed into the body intact following oral administration or are broken down during digestion in the stomach and intestines. The technological advances that have allowed these immune boosters to be sold in powdered form and taken orally are only valuable if the end product gets into the body and becomes bioavailable.
As discussed, transfer factors appear to be, primarily, chains of amino acids. Amino acids are strung together into short chains (peptides) and long chains (proteins). During digestion, proteins are broken down into amino acids, dipeptides (a pair of amino acids) and tripeptides (three amino acids together) by enzymes called proteases and peptidases. While two or three amino acids might not sound like a lot, some important peptides in the body are, in fact, that short. Glutathione, an antioxidant, and thyrotropin releasing hormone, a hormone central to thyroid functioning, are only three amino acids long.
In some people — lots of people, in fact — gaps between cells lining the gastrointestinal tract are too large, allowing proteins, bacteria, toxins and other large molecules to get in. The problem is called “leaky gut”. As such, these molecules get into the body and are then attacked by the immune system. Food allergies, such as peanut allergies, can result. While these gaps could help absorption of important meds, the constant presence of these gaps causes lots of problems.
Researchers are currently working on ways to make the gut leaky temporarily so that supplements and drugs can be absorbed more fully.
In 2000, Kirkpartrick wrote that, “… However, recent studies have shown that transfer factors can be purified to a high degree of homogeneity and that the purified transfer factors are proteinaceous and immunologically specific.”
Transfer factors are thought to have a molecular weight of about 5000 Daltons (Da). For reference, Tryptophan is the heaviest individual amino acid at 204.22 Da.
Oral transfer factors seem to work, which provides compelling anecdotal evidence that they do get absorbed and become bioavailable. Indeed, the flu-like symptoms that often result from their use clearly indicate that enough of the supplement gets in to activate the immune system.
|A putative role for insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE) in the pathophysiology of shingles, Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
Many adults are revisited by the herpes virus that causes chicken pox. But this time in a more painful way. After being beaten back by childhood immune systems, the virus hides inside of nerve cells, including cells that pick up sensory information from the skin. When under stress, when the skin is damaged, when ill with other conditions, the opportunistic virus comes our of the ends of the nerves near the skin. It invades skin cells and causes them to erupt, leading to the painful patches of blisters for which the disease is known. Sensory nerves carry information from discrete areas of skin called dermatomes (imagine having a lower back brace on, that would represent something like a dermatome). Because of this, shingles outbreaks can have well-defined borders.
This fall, Drs, Jeffrey Cohen and Quinxeue Li researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease reported a very interesting finding. The shingles virus gets inside of cells by attaching to an enzyme called insulin degrading enzyme (IDE). It literally catches a ride on IDE when this enzyme enters cells.
Insulin degrading enzyme (IDE) is an interesting thing. It is an enzyme that seems to play a role in several disease states. As discussed above, it serves as the gateway into cells for shingles. Theoretically, without any IDE whatsoever, on one would get shingles. Even if that were possible, too little IDE might be worse. We need IDE to regulate levels of three other proteins involved in disease – Beat-Amyloid Precusor Proetein (d-APP), insulin, and amylin.
- High levels of b-APP are involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s
- Too much insulin can cause diabetes.
- Deposits containing amylin are found in dead pancreas cells in people with Type II diabetes.
Levels of all three proteins are regulate by IDE. There is some speculation that an allele for the genes that carries the instructions for how to make IDE could lead to too little IDE, raising the levels of b-APP, insulin and amylin, and increasing one’s odds of Alzheimer’s and diabetes (Farris et al., 2003)
When insulin levels goes up, IDE levels go up because something needs to break the insulin down (Zhao et al., 2004) Zhao and colleagues (2004) provide evidence that activation of insulin receptors leads to a downstream increase in IDE levels.
This keeps the system in check. In Type II diabetes, the scenario might work like this. Chronically activating insulin receptors via sugar intake leads to them to become desensitized. If they’re desensitized, then, presumably, less IDE would be created. As we have discussed, less IDE could lead to amylin deposits in pancreas b-cells and high insulin levels seen in diabetes.
Because IDE breaks down b-APP cells, IDE associated with diabetes could also lead to more b-APP, which would increase the odds of Alzheimer’s. This fits nicely with recent report suggesting that, “type II diabetes predicted the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s (University of Michigan News Service, March 13,2006)