Thanks to my younger sister Lindsay, who like me is a long-term chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) survivior, for pointing me in the direction of GcMAF; I am so busy with this website and other things at the moment that my time and energy reserves aren't stretching to as much research and general Googling as they did previously! Anyway, I have now taken a look at some information on GcMAF and feel it is worth sharing with fellow patients.
GcMAF derives its acronym from the fact it is a macrophage activating factor which is stimulated by the vitamin D-binding protein 'Gc' - hence Gc Macrophage Activating Factor. The first research on GcMAF was published in 1993 by Dr. Nobuto Yamamoto in the US who has subsequently published numerous articles on this substance over the past two decades. Other scientists have also become involved with such research. GcMAF is an immune system modulator which works by stimulating the activity of macrophages, large white blood cells derived from monocytes which engulf and digest pathogens such as viruses and bacteria in a process known as phagocytosis. GcMAF does this by binding to the vitamin D receptors (VDRs) on the macrophages' surfaces. Macrophages act as a first line of defence against such foreign invaders and are also able to signal other types of white blood cell, particularly lymphocytes, to the site of infection to fight it off.
Macrophages also go after cancer cells and much of the research conducted by Yamamoto and other investigators has focused on using GcMAF to treat various forms of cancer. However, studies have also shown macrophages activated by GcMAF are able to quickly tackle numerous viruses and bacteria including Epstein-Barr (EBV) and herpes type viruses. EBV and herpes viruses in the form of human herpes virus 6 (HHV-6) have a long history of being linked to ME/CFS. Patients are also commonly susceptible to bacterial infections, especially in the gut (gut dysbiosis), and GcMAF is able to stimulate macrophages to attack a long list of pathogenic and non-desirable bacteria.
With a dysfunctional immune system and chronic viral and bacterial infections seemingly a cornerstone of ME/CFS, it is unsurprising to find that a number of high profile doctors who specialize in the condition have taken a look at GcMAF and trialled its use with some of their patients. Notable physicians to do so include Dr. Paul Cheney, M.D., and Dr. Kenny De Meirleir, M.D., who have used the treatment in XMRV-positive ME/CFS patients. On the manufacturer's website it states that: "In its role of immune system regulator, research shows GcMAF can reverse other diseases that attack the immune system like Autism, CFS, XMRV, Lyme disease, Aids, HIV, Fibromyalgia (all of which we've begun to have success with ourselves), osteoporosis, Hodgkin's, Lupus, MS, Parkinson's, various bacterial and viral infections and various types of Immune dysfunction," however another ME/CFS expert Dr. Derek Enlander, M.D., says there is currently insufficient evidence to fully support these claims.
European studies specifically looking at GcMAF as a treatment for ME/CFS are reportedly near publication but at present only positive results from Dr. Cheney and Dr. Meirleir, along with anecdotal reports from ME/CFS patients going it alone are what we have to go on. For those interested the Phoenix Rising Forums have a section devoted to GcMAF with a large number of members either using or discussing the treatment - http://phoenixrising.me/forums/forumdisplay.php?89-GcMAF
Treatment involves weekly injections until therapeutic improvement has stabilized and then "booster" shots every few months seem to be recommended to maintain that improvement. GcMAF is currently only available from the manufacturer in Europe (http://www.gcmaf.eu) with prices running at €660 total for a vial of 2.2ml, which is up to eight shots, one 100ng, 0.25ml shot a week.
Something to keep an eye on for sure but the jury still seems to be out on this one.
About: Matthew Hogg ("Maff")
Diagnosed with M.E./chronic fatigue syndrome aged only 11 years old and subsequently associated illnesses including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Despite his own struggles he has constantly sought to educate and support others suffering from such "invisible illnesses" through his website, The Environmental Illness Resource. He fully recovered from MCS using his own approach and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutritional Health.