In addition to the basic science interest, we were also attracted by the possibility to demonstrate in the laboratory that the famous words of Prof. Montagnier—“…you will get rid of the virus in a few week if you have a good immune system”—were true. Not that we doubted his words, but we knew that his words were based upon his clinical observations and not on actual experiments performed in the laboratory. The rationale is simple: if GcMAF administration eradicates HIV infection as published by Prof. Yamamoto, since GcMAF is not an antiretroviral and it should do no harm to the virus, this demonstrates that an empowered immune system is able to eliminate HIV and prevent AIDS. This would in turn demonstrate that immunodeficiency is the cause of chronic HIV infection and not vice-versa. In addition, this approach, often referred to as “immunotherapy”, would shift the focus from the fight against the virus to the effort to re-establish, or empower, an immune system made deficient by a number of different causes, probably different for each individual.
I often use the following example from my previous experience in lung cancer research. Even though many lung cancer patients are heavy smokers, lung cancer occurs also in non-smokers. Imagine you are an oncologist dealing with lung cancer patients. It makes no sense and it is criminal to abstain from using available anti-cancer therapeutic strategies (surgery, radio- or chemotherapy) and instead have all the lung cancer patients attend courses or counseling to stop smoking. This is what happens with AIDS; instead of focusing on the real disease, immunodeficiency, they try to fight the virus that putatively causes it, paying the high price of severe side effects, among which is drug-induced immunodeficiency, while at the same time ignoring the immune system without trying to reinforce it.
Because of these considerations, we thought that immunotherapy with GcMAF would be a good object of study. There was also another consideration. AIDS diagnosis and the decision to initiate ART are based on CD4 cell count. Therefore, we reasoned, if we are able to keep them high, HIV+ people, in addition to staying healthy, will avoid prescription of ART and will not be classified as having AIDS.
We had just recently read a very interesting article by Reid et al. (quoted in our IAS2011 presentation) where he demonstrated that a probiotic yogurt was able to rise CD4 to an extent comparable to that of ART, obviously without side effects and practically at no cost. In fact, it was produced by local women in low-income communities in Tanzania. In other words, locally-produced probiotic yogurt produced the same effects of ART. Or, if you prefer, AIDS in Africa can be defeated at no cost and with no side effects.
Reid et al. did not provide a molecular mechanism underlying the observed effects on CD4 cell count. We thought that bacteria contained in their probiotic yogurt could have converted some Gc-protein that is present in low concentration in milk into active GcMAF. Thus, administration of Reid’s probiotic yogurt might have mimicked Yamamoto’s administration of GcMAF.
Based on these premises, we then studied a way to have certain strains of bacteria convert high concentration of Gc-protein into GcMAF and we developed MAF 3 14. This was not easy at all and the number 314 indicates the number of different combinations/experiments we had to perform before obtaining the right conditions. This is definitely not something that you could perform in your home kitchen! Then, we thought that it could have been cooler to call it 3 14 mimicking the p number.
We also took advantage of the deep knowledge of human anatomy and histology of Prof. Stefania Pacini who is professor of human anatomy at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Firenze. In fact, she let us know that there was no need to inject MAF 3 14 (an impossible task) if we wished to stimulate the immune system. The existence of the mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) that comprises macrophages is now widely recognized and activated macrophages can re-circulate between mucosas, blood, tissues, and back to mucosas. At this point the only remaining obstacle was the acid environment of the stomach that could have digested the GcMAF presented in MAF 3 14. This problem also was solved by Prof. Pacini’s knowledge of human anatomy. In fact, in the Waldeyer’s tonsilar ring there is an abundance of macrophages that can be directly stimulated by the GcMAF present in MAF 3 14. Not only that, we developed a way to have most MAF 3 14 pass intact the gastric environment and arrive intact (for the most part) in the lower intestine where the gut microbiota (now conceived as a virtual organ) exerts its actions.
In fact, MAF 3 14 is not only a GcMAF-enriched yogurt. Based on Reid’s publications and successes, MAF 3 14 was developed to re-establish a healthy gut microbiota, very similar to that of newborn mammals. A sort of reset of the gut microbiota. Again, this achievement was not easy. Please consider that we had to do more than two experiments a day in a fully equipped and well funded laboratory. We often worked 14 hours a day with a team of about 10 researchers; you can see some of them in the home page of www.marcoruggiero.org. Prof. Pacini is the third from the left, standing.
At that point, we began experimenting on ourselves as true scientists of the old days used to do. (I wonder how many advocates of ART have experienced those drugs on themselves.) You can see the results of this “trial” in IAS2011. Immediately thereafter, we gave MAF 3 14 to a couple of friends with different pathologic conditions and we are now monitoring their situation. By the way, MAF 3 14 has a good taste and people who tried it found it good. We are collecting a series of unexpected positive side-effects that we believe are due to the lucky combination of immune stimulation and re-establishment of a healthy gut microbiota. Many of these effects are just sensations difficult to quantify in scientific terms, but they are nevertheless very welcomed by those experiencing them.
I conclude, for the moment, letting you know that we are about to move to the U.S. to perform a larger scale trial. I cannot give at the moment more details about this. If everything works as we hope and believe, MAF 3 14 should be available for consumption in the coming weeks.—Prof. Marco Ruggiero
Professor Marco Ruggiero and his research team at the University of Florence developed the probiotic substance MAF 314 in the past several years. MAF 314 was initially seen as a potential adjunct therapy for HIV and certain cancers. More recently it has been used in ME/CFS with some success. There are anecdotal indications that MAF 314 regulates gut ecology and attacks viruses through the natural production of GcMAF. MAF 314 is known to produce an abundance of GcMAF. MAF 314 is taken at a prescribed dosage once a day.
Several small pilot studies have been done by Dr. Paul Cheney (working in collaboration with Professor Ruggiero) and Professor Ruggiero himself. Dr. Cheney presented his one-month study of MAF 314 at the 2011 IAMECFS conference in Ottawa. Professor Ruggiero presented additional information in Padua a month later. There have been no additional published studies of MAF 314 since then.
In answer to a question in Ottawa about MAF 314, Dr. Cheney answered, "It works." For the past year, Dr. Cheney has used MAF 314 in his practice with selected patients. He is a true champion of this therapy. He follows his selected patients closely with various tests, including Nagalase and 1,25 dihydroxy vitamin D. Dr. Cheney has far and away the most clinical experience with MAF 314 and his continuing contributions in refining this treatment are available to his patients, as well as to subscribers to his research website. It is recommended that both MAF 314 and GcMAF be used under a doctor's supervision.
Dr. Derek Enlander in NYC has made his own version of a MAF-like substance called MAF 878. Anecdotal reports are that MAF 878 has a positive effect on patients with very few side effects.
MAF 314 was developed as an alternative to injectable GcMAF. Injectable GcMAF, as developed by Professor Nobuto Yamamoto, is seen as an adjunct therapy for HIV and various cancers. Small trials by Professor Yamamoto have not been expanded upon by others for unknown reasons. More recently injectable or chemical GcMAF has been used in patients with ME/CFS, primarily by Dr. Kenny De Meirleir, Dr. Paul Cheney and Dr. Derek Enlander. Dr. Enlander has indicated publicly that GcMAF is the best therapy for ME/CFS in the last ten years. Improvement has also been seen in these patient groups. There is a fine presentation by Dr. De Meirleir on GcMAF from a conference at Mt. Sinai ME/CFS center in late 2011. It can be viewed here.
I have written about MAF 314 in another post. It is my experience and the experience of others that MAF 314 strengthens the immune system - in unknown ways. Patients report feeling stronger on MAF 314 and MAF 878. The mechanism might be as simple as MAF operating as a super probiotic and stabilizing and improving the gut ecology. It seems to take some months before positive benefits are felt. It is unclear whether MAF 314 raises NK cell function, but that would certainly be an important benchmark for ME/CFS patients. This certainly might be a worthwhile study: Does GcMAF and MAF 314 have effects on NK cell functionality (LU 30)?
We in the ME/CFS community welcome this informative video interview of Professor Ruggiero and appreciate his research work in ME/CFS. His work in this field has continued with MAF 314 and expanded with significant research in other areas of ME/CFS. I will write about this soon.
This video interview with Professor Ruggiero was made by Peter Cairns in Professor Ruggiero's office in Florence earlier this year.