Transfer factor

background

Transfer factor is defined as a substance in white blood cells that can transfer immunity from an immune or sensitized person to a nonimmune or nonsensitized individual. White blood cells are lysed, or burst, and the contents are processed into a tablet or injection. A skin test can be carried out to learn whether immunity has been transferred from one person to the other. The structure and mechanism of action of transfer factor are unknown.
Transfer factor may be made from blood cells of normal healthy people, from individuals who been infected with a virus, such as herpes, or from individuals who are long-time survivors of specific diseases, such as bone cancer.
Transfer factor has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including cancer, infections, and immune system disorders. High quality evidence supporting the use of transfer factor for any condition in humans is currently unavailable.

Related Terms

Amino terminal fragments of enkephalins, antigen-dependent activity, antigen-independent activity, ascorbate, bovine dialyzable leukocyte extract, bovine dialyzable transfer factor, bovine transfer factor, chemiluminescence-inducing activity, chemotactic activity, cholinergic activity, cobalt, copper, dialyzable leukocyte extract, dialyzable transfer factor, DLE, facteur de transfert (French), factor de transferencia (Spanish), glycine, HCC-S-TF, histamine, human dialyzable leukocyte extract, human transfer factor, hypoxanthine, inducer factor, iron, Lawrence transfer factor, Lawrence's transfer factor, leukocyte adherence inhibition activity, leukocyte migration-enhancing activity, leukocyte migration-inhibiting activity, LLU, L-serine, lysed human leukocyte ultrafiltrate, manganese, nickel, nicotinamide, peptides, polynucleosides, polynucleotides, polypeptides, prostaglandins, protein, purine, pyrimidine, ribonucleotide, ribose, RNA bases, serotonin, Sp-TF, Sp-TFM, STF, S-TF, suppressor factor, suppressor transfer factor, T lymphocyte or differentiation maturation factors, TF, TFdL-H, TFh, thymosin-like factor, zinc.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
 
Acne (Grade: C)
According to limited research, it is unclear whether transfer factor may aid in the treatment of acne. Additional research is needed in this area.
AIDS (Grade: C)
Some evidence of benefit has been observed in clinical trials of transfer factor therapy for AIDS. Additional high-quality research is needed in this area.
Asthma (Grade: C)
Preliminary research suggests that transfer factor may have beneficial effects in children with asthma and patients with upper respiratory infections. Further research is required in this field.
Atopic dermatitis (Grade: C)
Transfer factor may be helpful in reducing the severity of symptoms of atopic dermatitis (skin rash), although some studies have reported a lack of beneficial effects. Further research is needed.
Breast cancer (Grade: C)
In limited research, transfer factor therapy was associated with partial regression of breast cancer. Further research is required in this area.
Cancer (Grade: C)
Transfer factor therapy has been studied for a variety of cancers, with mixed results. It has been suggested that transfer factor may serve as a useful adjunct therapy. Further research is needed.
Central nervous system disorders (Grade: C)
Transfer factor therapy has been used for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease) and epilepsy, with some evidence of benefit. Additional research is needed in this area.
Cervical cancer (Grade: C)
The rate of recurrence has been improved in a small number of trials of transfer factor treatment in cervical cancer. Additional research is needed before a conclusion can be drawn.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (Grade: C)
Transfer factor therapy has been used in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, with mixed results. Further research is needed in this area.
Hepatitis (Grade: C)
Some studies of transfer factor therapy in patients with hepatitis have suggested that transfer factor may have beneficial effects when used alone or with another agent. Other studies have reported a lack of effect. Larger, high-quality studies are needed to determine whether transfer factor therapy may be effective in hepatitis.
Herpes (Grade: C)
Some studies have reported improvements, such as shorter duration of pain, in patients with herpes. Additional high-quality studies are needed in this area.
Hodgkin's disease (Grade: C)
Limited data are available on the effect of transfer factor in the patients with Hodgkin's disease. Additional research is needed in this area.
Immune system diseases (Grade: C)
Beneficial effects have been reported for transfer factor therapy in patients with a variety of immune disorders. Well-designed studies are required in this field before conclusions can be drawn.
Infections (Grade: C)
Transfer factor has been used with success to treat a variety of infections, although in other studies, beneficial effects have been lacking. Additional research is needed in this area before conclusions can be drawn.
Inflammatory conditions (Grade: C)
Transfer factor has been explored as therapy in a variety of inflammatory conditions, including Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and nonbacterial cystitis, with mixed results. Further well-designed research is required in this field.
Leukemia (Grade: C)
Limited research has shown modest improvements in patients with leukemia. Further research is needed in this area.
Lung cancer (Grade: C)
Transfer factor may improve survival after resection in lung cancer patients. More research is needed in order to better understand the potential benefit of transfer factor therapy for lung cancer.
Lymphoma (mycosis fungoides) (Grade: C)
Limited data are available on transfer factor therapy for mycosis fungoides (cancer of the immune system that appears as a skin rash). Well-designed studies are required before conclusions can be drawn.
Multiple sclerosis (Grade: C)
Some studies have reported that transfer factor therapy resulted in slowed progression of multiple sclerosis, while others have reported the lack of an effect. Additional research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (Grade: C)
Transfer factor therapy may slow tumor growth and improve survival in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (cancer of the upper part of the throat); however, supporting evidence is limited. Additional well-designed research is needed in this area.
Osteosarcoma (Grade: C)
Available scientific evidence on transfer factor therapy in patients with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) is limited. Additional research is needed in this area before conclusions can be drawn.
Warts (Grade: C)
Available scientific evidence on transfer factor therapy for warts is limited. Additional research is needed in this area before conclusions can be drawn.
Melanoma (Grade: D)
In one study, disease progression was accelerated in patients treated with transfer factor compared with those who received placebo. Other studies have reported a lack of effect. Additional research is needed in this area.