Mark and David Geiers’ IRB: If there is a story here, I’m disappointed

Activists asserting a connection between vaccines (or components of vaccines) and autism have had a hard time of late. First, it was Dr. Wakefield, proponent of the theory of the connection between the MMR(Mumps, Measles, Rubella) vaccine and both autism and irritable bowels, was formally charged with professional misconduct. Now, Kathleen Siedel of Neurodiversity has dug up some disturbing information on Dr. Mark and David Geier. This has to do with the creation of an IRB(Institutional Review Board) that oversaw the protocol that resulted in the recent manuscript A Clinical and Laboratory Evaluation of Methionine Cycle-Transsulfuration and Androgen Pathway Markers in Children with Autistic Disorders. This paper dovetails with their Lupronâ„¢ (i.e. chemical castration) strategy for treating children with autism.

Repeat readers of this blog know that I am agnostic on the thimerosal-autism connection hypothesis. I even have my doubts about the safety of the MMR(Mumps, Measles, Rubella) vaccine. The complexity of the mind is such that we simply don’t understand how these things work, and even running tests for mercury in the blood isn’t easy. And the vigor with which people on both sides of this controversy argue seems to leave little room for real understanding.

I think that we should question the establishment about our vaccine strategy. I understand the need for “herd immunity,” but I wonder if we are asking too much of our little babies’ immune systems in the process. We should always try to find a better way, one with more efficacy, less risk, and/or lower cost. Two high-profile researchers that are questioning the establishment are now under question themselves, and, unfortunately, this time, I can’t say it’s a case of “??The Empire Strikes Back??”:
I believe that those who use science to back up their positions should use the methods of science properly and ethically. And this is why Kathleen’s entry, assuming the details it contains are true, is very disturbing, especially considering the methods used to obtain the data for the manuscript. There is definitely smoke here. Is there a fire?


2 Responses

  1. Thanks for honestly considering the consequences of this. The mercury causation proponents have been very quiet about this. Did you also see Kathleen’s latest post on the change of diagnostic labels for insurance purposes?

  2. Joseph – I’d rather have ethical research than a speedier confirmation of a hypothesis. I do think we should be skeptical of our vaccine policy if for no other reason than to make it better and get public consent (and higher compliance). I don’t think that having an opaque IRB or any of the other issues that Kathleen listed in her series (including seriously widening the criteria for diagnosis of precocious puberty) is the way to go about doing it. I think there are some studies that need to be conducted linking autism to precocious puberty before Lupron is ever considered in a prospective trial. This is independent of what I or anyone else may think of the thimerosal-autism hypothesis.

    I am closely following Kathleen’s series, and, if her details are correct, I’d have to say that the line of research conducted by the Geiers needs to be halted abruptly and carried forth in an ethical fashion.

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