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Transfer Factor: Breakthrough for Treating Infectious Diseases and Other Conditions

by Michael B. Schachter, MD, FACAM

Many professional and lay public articles have been written in recent years about the crisis in health care related to the development of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.  This resistance is largely due to the widespread and often inappropriate use of antibiotics to treat illnesses in people, as well as its use in animals that are used for food. 

Fortunately, a new approach for treating and even preventing infectious diseases is emerging with the availability of a nutritional supplement known as Transfer Factor.  A transfer factor (or more appropriately transfer factors) is made up of a series of relatively small molecules containing protein-like and nucleic acid-like substances that are used to convey information to our immune system, training it to attack infectious microorganisms when appropriate.  Interestingly these substances may be used to transfer immune information from one individual to another and even to convey information from an animal of one species to an animal of another species. 

Transfer factor consists of three separate fractions: (1) inducer; (2) antigen specific; (3) suppressor.  The inducer fraction energizes the immune system. The antigen specific fraction tells lymphocytes which microorganisms to attack; and the suppressor fraction helps the immune system to shut down when the job is done, thus preventing autoimmune disease.

H. Sherwood Lawrence, first discovered transfer factor in 1949, while working on the problem of tuberculosis, when he found that he could transfer immunity to tuberculosis from one person to another by administering some small molecules from the lymphocytes of the person who had immunity to one who did not.  He called these small molecules transfer factor.   

Originally it was thought that transfer factor could be found only in blood.  But, in the mid-1980s, two researchers showed that it is present in colostrum, the first milk that a mother produces immediately after giving birth. Colostrum is now the best source of transfer factor.  Transfer factor derived from the colostrum of cows is available as an oral nutritional supplement and works very well. 

Since Lawrence’s discovery of transfer factor in 1949, there have been over 3000 scientific studies published on the subject.  Transfer factor preparations have been used to effectively treat a wide range of diseases.  These include bacterial, mycobacterial, fungal, parasitic and viral infections.  It has also been used to support cancer patients and may be useful for suspected hidden viral illnesses, such as autism and multiple sclerosis. 

Because of the suppressor fraction, it also may be useful in allergic conditions.  Children with frequent ear colds and ear infections are primary candidates for transfer factor, as it appears to be very safe and virtually never produces allergic reactions to it.  Transfer factor opens a new dimension for complementary and alternative medicine.

© 2000 Michael B. Schachter, MD




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