Common Q & As about Transfer Factor

Questions most commonly asked about Transfer Factor™

1. What is Transfer Factor?  Transfer Factor is a set of messaging molecules that convey immune information within an individual's immune system. Nature also uses transfer factor to carry immune information from one individual's immune system to another individual. This in fact is how it got its name: by being the factor that transferred immunity from one person to another.

2. How was Transfer Factor discovered?  In 1949 Dr. H. Sherwood Lawrence was working on the problem of tuberculosis. What he was trying to discover was if any component of the blood could convey a tubercular sensitivity from an exposed recovered donor to a naive recipient. Whole blood transfusions could be used but only between people of the same blood type. Lawrence first separated the blood's immune cells, the lymphocytes or white blood cells, from the whole blood. Then he broke open the lymphocytes and separated the contents of the cells into various size fractions. What he found was that a fraction of small molecules was able to transfer tuberculin sensitivity to a naive recipient. This is what Dr. Lawrence called transfer factor.

3. Is blood the only source of transfer factor?  Originally it was. It was not until the mid 1980's that two researchers came up with the idea that Transfer Factor may also be present in colostrum. The confirmation of this discovery was awarded a patent in 1989. Colostrum is now the best source of transfer factor.

4. What is colostrum?  It is the first milk that a mother produces immediately after giving birth.

5. What prompted these scientists to look for Transfer Factor in colostrum?  Those who have worked with cattle know that if a calf is not allowed to nurse from its mother it will most often die within a short time. The calves would die in spite of an abundance of food. Death in these cases was cause by infections brought on by the most common organisms. For whatever reason the immune systems of these calves were not working. Seeing this suggests that there is some kind of immune information was being transferred from the mother and her infant. The logical question then became: was it transfer factor? The answer was a resounding YES!

6. Transfer Factor™ is isolated from colostrum, what about milk allergies and lactose intolerance?  Milk allergies are caused by the large milk proteins, primarily casein, and to a lesser extent the immunoglobulins. These proteins are completely removed from the transfer factor. Lactose intolerance is most common in Oriental populations; much less so in those of European or African decent. We are conscience of this concern and remove the lactose from our product.

7. How does Transfer Factor™ compare to the colostrum products that are on the market now?  We looked seriously at hyperimmunized colostrum and eggs. These products are good but certain issues must be addressed. First the milk allergy and lactose intolerance issues as we discussed above. Second the issue of immunoglobulin or antibody effectiveness. The use of cross species antibody therapy can be effective in the short run. Long-term use is ineffective since the recipient develops antibodies to the foreign antibody thus destroying its effectiveness. Antibody therapy is given intravenously since oral consumption leads to acid degradation in the stomach.

8. Is Transfer Factor™ only good for newborns?  Transfer Factor is good for everyone who needs an extra immune boost. The three groups who are most in need of immune strengthening are the young, the old, and anyone under stress. Almost all of us fall into one of these categories. We often talk of the baby-boom generation. Most of these people are at an age where already their immune systems are becoming lax. Transfer Factor is a way to boost a lagging immune system.

9. Has Transfer Factor™ been scientifically validated?  Since Lawrence's discovery of Transfer Factor in 1949, there have been over 3000 scientific studies published on Transfer Factor. Dr. Hennen has summarized a portion of this research in a forty-eight-page booklet for the general public.  This booklet can be obtained from Woodland Books by calling 801 785-8100.

10. What conditions are responsive to Transfer Factor™?  Transfer factor preparations have been used to effectively treat a wide range of diseases. These include bacterial, mycobacterial, fungal, parasitic, viral, and cancer. It is in part because of AIDS, or more specifically our frustration in treating AIDS, that transfer factor is experiencing a resurgence of research interest. In fact a recent international symposium held in Italy was titled: "Transfer Factor in the Era of AIDS".

11. If Transfer Factor™ is so effective why hasn't the pharmaceutical industry jumped on Transfer Factor™?  I think that is exactly what we are seeing in many foreign countries notably China, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Japan. In the US transfer factor has had an interesting history. The idea of transfer factor flies in the face of conventional immunology. In the 50’s antibiotics were the golden child of medicine followed in the 60's by steroids like cortisone for inflammation and the synthetic steroid hormones like ethinyl estrogen and progestin that were used to create the birth control pill. After an initial delay transfer factor hit its heyday in the 70's and early 80's. Results however were inconsistent as researchers dove in sometimes with more enthusiasm than skill. The key feature that was missing in these investigations was a dependable assay technique for quality control of the product. The quality control issue was not resolved until the mid 1980's. Given that transfer factor is not a single entity, the pharmaceutical companies had fits to trying to purify the material without losing efficacy. This force-fit into the single-entity, single-function drug dogma was disastrous. The next issue that slowed transfer factor research is the age-old issue of funding. When AIDS hit the popular press politicians shifted funding into AIDS research but with the focus on finding the cause and then finding a drug that would cure AIDS. The work of a few dedicated, but under-funded, researchers and the inability of the mainstream medical-pharmaceutical industry have combined to again focus attention on transfer factor as one of the few modalities that is effective against diseases of viral origin.

12. Are there reasons why we haven't seen transfer factor as a food supplement before now?  Yes, there are two doors that recently have opened that allow transfer factor to be effectively marketed now. The first door to open was the passage of DSHEA in 1994. The provision for structure-functions claims allows the story of transfer factor to be told without jeopardizing its status as a nutritional supplement. The second is technical. Transfer factor was definitely an idea way ahead of its time and it had to wait for technology to catch up. The processing methods that allow for large-scale extraction of transfer factor have only recently been perfected and a commercial product has only been available for the past year.

13. How does one discuss Transfer Factor™ in terms of structure-function claims?   Simplistically, transfer factor strengthens the immune system. But that is simplistic and could be used to describe a number of herbal products and other supplements. Let me answer the question by first reiterating that transfer factor is not just a single entity. Transfer factor is in fact a complex mixture containing three separate fractions. These three fractions are an INDUCER fraction, and ANTIGEN SPECIFIC fraction, and a SUPPRESSOR fraction. Since our immune systems fight the microbe wars for us, let me use a military analogy to explain these three functions. The inducer fraction serves as the drill Sargent of basic training whipping the immune system into shape but not telling them who to go out and attack. The antigen specific fraction is like a set of wanted posters identifying critical features of the bad guys. If we were microbes these specific identifiers would be our fingerprints, mug shots, etc. Similarly a whole set of transfer factors are made against a single microbe type. Finally the suppressor fraction is like the politicians who declare an end to the war and demobilize the troops. Without this action a lot of excessive damage is done both in war and within ourselves. When our immune system does not demobilize or overreacts we suffer from autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and allergies. Unlike most immune supplements, that provide the building blocks for proper immune function, transfer factor is immune intelligence. It is immune information and education that focuses the immune system keeping it on task and effective. This is a whole new concept in immune system strengthening.

14. Is Transfer Factor™ FDA approved?  YES, according to Dr. Fudenburg Prog in Drug Res. 1994, 42, p378.  Foods and dietary supplements are not approved per se by the FDA and food supplements derived from milk would certainly fall under the category of Generally Recognized As Safe [GRAS].

15. Is Transfer Factor™ safe?  YES, researchers have given huge doses of Transfer Factor™ to volunteers in an attempt to trigger some sort of adverse reaction. No negative side effects were observed even with massive doses.

16. Are there any reports about Transfer Factor™ helping people with cancer? Radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery are the commonly used conventional cancer treatments. Both radiation and chemotherapy are highly damaging to fast growing cells in the body such as the intestinal lining, the bone marrow and the cells of the immune system. After these treatments persons often have to be on very strong antibiotics in order to prevent infections. The use of transfer factor during radiation or chemotherapy protects the immune system by some mechanism which we do not fully understand at the present. In cases of surgical removal of certain tumors the use of Transfer Factor™ as an adjuvant therapy resulted in a consistently higher survival rate.

17. What about colds?  Colds are viral diseases and transfer factor is used most commonly against viral conditions. Studies of transfer factor and colds have not been officially done but interestingly cold relief is a commonly reported side effect of taking Transfer Factor™.

18. Is transfer factor safe for infants?  Colostral transfer factor was designed by Nature for newborns. Removal of the milk allergens and lactose leaves only the essence of the immunological information in the form of Transfer Factor™.

19. BSE - Mad Cow Disease • Report by Dr. Richard Bennett


Relieving Concerns about the "Mad Cow Disease" 

By Richard H. Bennett, Ph.D. 
Expert in Infectious Disease Microbiology

Over the last year, medical professionals and customers alike have raised questions about the safety of Transfer Factor™ products. Many of the questions are about TSE's. This concern arises from the events that have taken place in England over the last 14 years. 

In 1986 over 160,000 cases of bovine neurological disease were confirmed in sick cattle. The disease is called Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE. The common linkage of this disease outbreak was the practice of feeding rendered animal waste products back to beef cattle. The infective agent is likely a Prion or a viral-like particle.  The agents that cause TSE's have not been fully identified. Just the same the BSE agents withstand heat processing of normal cooking and pasteurization. Once ingested they have the ability to infect cells, especially neurological tissues, and reproduce themselves. 

The BSE agent is highly species specific as it infects the bovine almost exclusively. The concern about BSE and human health arose from a statistical linkage that suggested that a variant of the BSE agent was able to cause the human equivalent of BSE called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease or CJD. CJD has a genetic predisposition component and occurs worldwide at a rate of 1 per million persons. CJD has been linked to the use of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) use and transplantation of neurological tissue. 

In England a variant form of CJD was identified in 14 patients as of 1996. In contrast to typical CJD, this variant affected young patients.  Rigorous scientific review concluded that no definite link between BSE and the CDJ variant could be established. Circumstantial evidence suggested that consumption of meat containing the BSE agent was the likely cause. Thousands of English and European consumers were likely exposed, yet only 14 human cases have been confirmed. Milk and dairy products did not appear to be a linkage to the disease and are considered safe by UK authorities. 

Worldwide surveillance for BSE reveals there are a few other countries that have low incidence of BSE in cattle. THERE HAVE BEEN NO CASES OF BSE IN THE UNITED STATES. Internal surveillance for BSE is intense due to the potential devastating impact of the disease on the milk and meat industries. 

There are TSE's in other animals in the US, including cats, mink, deer, elk, sheep and goats. There is no evidence of horizontal transmission to humans from these species. 

The US meat and milk supply is considered by the USDA and WHO to be free of the BSE agent. Most importantly protections are now law.  BSE is a noticeable disease and veterinarians are required to report suspect cases. Hundreds of cattle brains in the US are examined each year for evidence of BSE. There have been no confirmed cases from this screening process. 

In August of 1997 the FDA instituted regulations that prohibit the refeeding of most animal proteins to cattle and other ruminants.  Feeding animal protein to milk cows has never been recommended and has not been the practice of the dairy producer. 

In summary, we should have great confidence that all colostrum and bovine sources of thymus protein are not contaminated with the BSE agent. The programs and regulations currently in place will work effectively to ensure product safety for 4Life™ products derived from animal sources. 

Sources: WHO Fact Sheet No. 133, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy  www.who.int/inf-fs/en/fact113.html 

USDA, APHIS, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy  www.aphis.usda.gov/oa/bse

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