April 27, 2008

David Kirby On The Case that Replaced Hannah Poling

The boy who replaced Hannah Poling as a test case in the Vaccine Omnibus Hearings has the same biomarkers for having the "rare" condition that Hannah has.

If the first to thimerosal test cases both just happen to have the same "rare" mitochondrial disorder, then at what point do you have to retract your claim of "rare"?

The Next Vaccine-Autism Newsmaker: Not Isolated, Not Unusual
David Kirby
Huffington Post
April 27, 2008

In February, I leaked news of the Federal government's admission that vaccines had triggered autism in a little girl named Hannah Poling. The stunning revelation, though still reverberating around the world, was roundly downplayed by US officials, who insisted that Hannah had an extremely rare, genetic case of "aggravated" mitochondrial disorder, with zero bearing on other autism cases.

Dr. Julie Gerberding, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rushed to the airwaves, exhorting parents to adhere to the nation's intensive and virtually mandatory immunization schedule, and brushing off their legitimate anxieties by saying: "We've got to set aside this very isolated, unusual situation."

Well, the days of setting aside are over: Hannah Poling is neither isolated nor unusual.

In fact, the boy who was selected to replace Hannah Poling as the first-ever thimerosal "test case" in so-called Vaccine Court, has just been found with many of the same unusual metabolic markers as... you guessed it, Hannah Poling.

Hannah's case was scheduled to be heard in Federal Claims Court on May 12 -- as one of three "test cases" of the theory that thimerosal (a mercury-based vaccine preservative) can cause autism.

Test cases will help address general causation issues in all 4,900 autism claims now pending in Vaccine Court. But following the government concession, Hannah was withdrawn as the first test case of the thimerosal theory, and attorneys scrambled to find a replacement: a young boy from New York.

Last week, however, the court announced that the replacement thimerosal test case was also being withdrawn, in order to "proceed to an individual hearing on a different theory of causation."

That theory, which applies to Hannah as well, maintains that children with dysfunctional mitochondria (the little batteries within each cell that convert food into energy) are susceptible to autistic regression, triggered by a vaccine-induced overtaxing of the immune system.

"We want to pursue an additional theory, not a different theory," the boy's father told me. "We are by no means abandoning the thimerosal theory of causation but, in the context of the test case, the thimerosal theory would have eclipsed our other evidence, including evidence of metabolic dysfunction," such as impaired mitchondria and low cellular energy.

Following the Poling concession, he said, "I saw right away that we needed to pursue the mitochondrial theory,"but the lead attorneys did not see it that way. "Perhaps they did not properly understand the concession, and believed the finding was of a rare, genetically caused mitochondrial disorder," as the government contends. "I think they rightly want to keep clear focus on thimerosal in the test case, and not muddy the presentation with other theories."

The court's test case process is unusual and unwieldy. "They limit the cases to one theory at a time, when the theories are not mutually exclusive," the father said. "For example, thimerosal could cause, contribute to, or aggravate mitochondrial dysfunction. These cases can't be wrapped into neat
little packages."

The unexpected withdrawal of two test cases in a row - both because of their apparent mitochondrial underpinnings - is sure to have larger ramifications in the Court of Federal Claims, as well as the much larger court of public opinion.

A new, additional theory of causation is about to be introduced in Vaccine Court: Vaccines can trigger a chain of events in children with mitochondrial dysfunction that causes autism.

But the US Government now has a major quandary to deal with. Federal officials already conceded that, far from being "theoretical," this chain of events already happened to Hannah Poling. This will make it difficult, if not impossible, to argue against compensating the boy from New York, when compensating a nearly identical case - Hannah Poling - was already deemed appropriate.

Some estimates of mitochondrial dysfunction in children with autism range as high as 20%-30%. But among the regressive subset of cases (virtually all of the claims in Vaccine Court) up to half of the children might show signs of it.

No one knows how many of those families will pursue a similar strategy of individual hearings on causation, based on the mitochondrial concession in the Poling case. But my guess is that there could be hundreds of them, following in the precedent of this case's footsteps. The legal ramifications, inside Vaccine Court and throughout the judicial system, remain incalculable at this point.

Still, when the American public finds out that the exceedingly "rare" Poling case was replaced by what is shaping up to be yet another exceedingly rare case - they will follow the lead of all three presidential candidates and finally reject the tired mantra that, "there is no link" between vaccines and autism.

Then perhaps will end, "One of the most vitriolic debates in medical history," as it is called by Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of the NIH and the Red Cross. "At some level," she said, the Poling case "was a vindication for families," adding that, "vaccines as a trigger carry a ring of both historical and biological plausibility."

The government is currently examining the national vaccine schedule to see if we are, perhaps, immunizing children too early and too often (and with too much thimerosal from the flu shot).

I personally thought that one Hannah Poling emerging out of Vaccine Court would be enough to
change the way we vaccinate in this country. But now we have two. And there are many more Hannah's out there, waiting to be counted.

NOTE: Today, the UK's Sunday Sun writes about the controversy today, and mentions the second test case being withdrawn.

April 24, 2008

Looking for Mitochondrial Disorders In Your Autistic Child

So there has been much, "How do i know if my child has a mitochondrial disorder" discussion these days. Here is a blurb from David Kirby on the biomarkers to look for that could point toward mito dysfunction. Discuss them with your doctor.

"1) Mark Blaxill sent this to me. It is a sample list of some of the higher estimates of mitochondrial imbalances in autism samples. Most of these are elevated relative to a reference range.

1. 47% (elevated serum creatine kinase, Poling et al)

2. 38% (elevated plasma aspartate aminotransferase, Poling et al) vs. 22% in controls

3. 28% (elevated plasma lactate/pyruvate ratio, Correia et al)

4. 20% (elevated plasma lactate, Oliveiro et al)

5. 17% (elevate plasma lactate, Correia et al)

6. 13-16% (two hyperlactidemia markers, Oliveiro et al)

7. 65% - Shoffner (I need to check this abstract – DK)

2) Another ASD doctor, who does not specialize in mito disorders, went back and looked at blood work from his patient caseload in Jan 08. A high lactate/low pyruvate ratio is one marker (though a child who squirms during a blood draw can have elevated levels, though Poling and others try to control for false negatives)

This is what the pediatrician found:

168 total visits (consecutive)
147 different patients (consecutive)
67 had blood lactate done in clinic and sent stat to the local hospital (45.5% of patients)
21/67 had a blood lactate above the normal reference range (31.3%)

April 23, 2008

Nassau County NY First Municipality to Hold Vaccine Autism Hearings

How great would it be if CDC's vaccine/autism judgments were just rendered irrelevant in each local area because everyone just decided to look into it themselves rather than just handing off their rights and responsibilities to some corrupt federal bureaucracy that is in bed with the pharmaceutical companies?

This ladies and gents is why I am a republican.

Act locally people.

Oh... and David Kirby has been invited.


(516) 571-6214







WHEN: APRIL 28, 2008 @ 12 NOON




A Beautiful Bride

When Miranda Hall sent out her wedding invitations, she asked that her guests, in lieu of sending gifts to her and her groom, send in donations to send an autistic child to camp.

Miranda get's an Autism in God's Economy Award, because she clearly gets it.

April 22, 2008

Verstraeten Conference Call? What Verstraeten Conference Call?

By now we are all familiar with the Verstraeten Study, the only government study into the safety of thimerosal containing vaccines. The study began in late 1999 and was supposed to be a simple study that looked at the amount of thimerosal a child got in their vaccines to see if it correlated to the onset of neurodevelopmental disorders like autism.

The four month study took four years to complete and cost the government in the ballpark of 25 million dollars. The sausage making that went into the creation of this monstrosity of a study became a main subject of David Kirby’s book, Evidence of Harm.

The reason it took so long and cost so much is that the simple version of the study found a significant correlation between thimerosal exposure and neurodevelopmental disorders, autism among them, so a lot of time and money had to go into figuring out a way to unfind the thing that no one wanted found in the first place.

Through FOIA requests, parents have been able to glean bits and pieces of what actually happened behind the scenes as Verstraeten’s creation grew from simple correlation study to the monster that was eventually published in 2004, but not much is known about his involvement in the project that bears his name after he left the CDC in June of 2000 to work for GlaxoSmithKlein, a manufacturer of thimerosal containing vaccines. The CDC has claimed that Verstraeten had no involvement in the study after leaving for GSK, for to do so would be a very serious conflict of interest.

Today we have yet more evidence that CDC has not been honest with us.

This week, in response to a FOIA request, an interested physician was sent these records. They are emails back and forth between Verstraeten and CDC employees in the summer of 2001, setting up a conference call on the thimerosal study, more than a year after he went to GSK.

The emails tell us nothing specific about the content of the discussion to take place, just that it was scheduled to take place on September 6th, 2001. The presumption is that the meeting took place, that Verstraeten was involved, and that the transcripts are out there somewhere.

It is my understanding that FOIA requests for these transcripts have already been filed. So stay tuned to see what they say.

That an employee of GSK was shaping a government safety study that could so profoundly impact its products and its bottom line is a serious breach. The Institute of Medicine relied heavily on the Verstraeten Study when it came to its 2004 opinion that thimerosal had no relationship to the development of autism and recommended that no further inquiry into the vaccine/autism be made. In turn, Julie Gerberding, head of the CDC, is currently proffering that now clearly erroneous 2004 opinion as evidence that there is no link between vaccines and autism.

The CDC gave the IOM a bad study to base their opinion on, and the IOM gave them back a bad opinion for the CDC to base their policy on. Current CDC vaccine policy and its safety claims are built on a house of cards and both the Verstraeten Study and the 2004 IOM opinion should be formally retracted.

It is long past time for open investigations and open hearings into all of the CDC’s misbehavior and mismanagement in this matter and I renew my call to Congress to begin proceedings with all due speed.

Witness number one to testify should be Thomas Verstraeten.

UPDATE: MJ points out:

Not that I disagree with you but I wanted to point out that Verstraeten did talk about being involved with discussions after he left.

This is from a letter to the editor published from Verstraeten in Pediatrics in April 2004:

"Although I have been involved in some of the discussions concerning additional analyses that were undertaken after my departure from the CDC, I did not perform any of these additional analyses myself, nor did I instigate them."


It will be interesting to see the transcript of the conference call to see how heavily he influenced the direction of the 'analyses'.

But really it doesn't matter. Ethical lines are drawn for a reason, just crossing them a tiny bit is still crossing them.

Meet the New Boss, Totally Different As The Old Boss

Mr. Obama has joined Mr. McCain in sharing that he suspects that vaccines trigger autism. Hillary is not far behind them.

"We've seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it's connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it."
--Barack Obama, Pennsylvania Rally, April 21, 2008.

"It's indisputable that (autism) is on the rise among children, the question is what's causing it. And we go back and forth and there's strong evidence that indicates it's got to do with a preservative in vaccines."
--John McCain, Texas town hall meeting, February 29, 2008.

"I am Committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines." When asked if she would support a study of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children, she said: "Yes. We don't know what, if any, kind of link there is between vaccines and autism - but we should find out.
--Hillary Clinton, A-CHAMP Questionnaire 2008.

It is all downhill from here.

Obama Climbs On The Vaccine Bandwagon
David Kirby
Huffington Post
April 22, 2008

No matter who wins in Pennsylvania today, the next President of the United States will support research into the growing evidence of some link between vaccines and autism.

Senator John McCain has already expressed his belief that vaccines and the mercury containing preservative thimerosal could be implicated in what he has rightly termed an "autism epidemic."

Senator Hillary Clinton, in response to a questionaire from the autism activist group A-CHAMP, wrote that she was "Committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines." And when asked if she would support a study of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children, she said: "Yes. We don't know what, if any, kind of link there is between vaccines and autism - but we should find out.

And now, yesterday, at a rally in Pennsylvania, Barack Obama had this rather surprising thing to say:

"We've seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it's connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it."

So there you have it, our next President will share the views of such radical fringe crazies as, well, me, Democrat Robert Kennedy, Jr., Republican Joe Scarborough, former NIH and Red Cross chief Bernadine Healy, and several researchers at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, the Universities of California and Washington and elsewhere.

All of us agree: Current evidence suggests that vaccines could be a contributing factor in some cases of autism, and more research is immediately required.

And yes, now the comments to this piece will come flying in, repeating the tired mantra that "this case is closed," that vaccines and thimerosal have been "completely vindicated," and that people like me are just trying to scare the public and drive them away from vaccines, leaving their children vulnerable and sick.

Of course, none of the above is true. So stay tuned.

To begin with, government researchers are currently looking into a number of factors that may trigger autism, including vaccines, their ingredients and the crowded vaccine schedule itself.

Secondly, on April 11th, I attended a top-level meeting in Washington where vaccine safety officials discussed all of the above issues, and more. Included on the Federal Draft Research Agenda for vaccine safety are now questions such as:

Can vaccines cause neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism?

Can vaccines in children with mitochondrial dysfunction cause significant "neurological deterioration?"

Can the combination live-virus measles, mumps and rubella vaccine cause seizures and long term damage in children?

Can vaccines cause autoimmune disease?

Can thimerosal cause tics or Tourette syndrome?

Can attenuated viruses in vaccines cause asthma in children?

So, no matter who is President next year, top government researchers will be examining the role of vaccines in autism and other childhood illnesses. Thus, the declarations of McCain, Clinton and now Obama, make good scientific sense.

But there is more.

Dozens of autism cases (and perhaps more) currently filed in so-called Vaccine Court will almost certainly be compensated this year. Why? Because a little girl named Hannah Poling with a supposedly rare mitochondrial condition was recently compensated for her own vaccine injuries, including autism and epilepsy.

But I have personally identified at least a dozen (and there are reports of many more) children with cases in the court who meet the exact same medical criteria as Hannah, and whose cases will almost surely be compensated as well -- each time with the attendant media fanfare.

My prediction is that, by Election Day, few Americans will still believe there is absolutely no evidence to link vaccines to at least some cases of regressive autism.

So the remarks by all three candidates not only reflect good science, they reflect good politics as well.

April 20, 2008

Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Almost Specified

So this week I got the best phone call ever.

Chandler is currently going through reevaluation by the school psychologist Dr. Guy, as I will call him, as it had been three years since his last formal evaluation and the state believes it is time. Dr. Guy did the testing over a few days and in the middle, called me to check in and ask some questions and see what kind of things I wanted him to look for while he was at work on my boy.

We talked for a while and he described what he had seen so far. (I usually don’t tell that I have a background in mental health or that we are doing biomed or anything of much at all so as not to contaminate the process.) I could tell that he had gotten a pretty good handle on who Chandler was (you can always tell who ‘gets’ your kid and who doesn’t) and I asked him for a few specific things that might help me gauge his long term progress over the years.

Then this part of the conversation happened:

Dr. Guy: Well your son is autistic, but he doesn't have autism.

Me: Explain that to me.

Dr. Guy: Well there is another diagnosis called Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified that... blah blah blah... (I have no idea what he said after that because my heart jumped into the air and I was trying not to burst into tears on the phone)

Me: So you think he has PDD?

Dr. Guy: Yes. While he has problems with speech and receptive language and socialization, I don't see any of the behavioral issues, stims, problems with transitions... blah blah blah... again could not hear him because all I could think was, "Did he really just say that? Don't get too excited because he might not really have said that."

Me: So if you walked into the class room and didn't know he had ever had any diagnosis, you would pick him out as a child with PDD?

Dr. Guy: (Now being very nice and trying to explain to me in very basic terms because clearly I was not understanding him as I kept asking him the same simple question over and over). Yes. Have you been in the autism class and gotten a chance to see some of the other children? They are very different from Chandler, much lower functioning. Have you noticed how they do things like _________? That is more of what true autism looks like.


Dr. Guy: Ma'am?

I explained that when we started with Chandler, he didn’t make eye contact or answer to his name, and that he was a stimming machine, flapping and spinning and toe walking and walking in positions that I could not do and hold my balance and turning the big wheel upside down to spin the tires and spinning the hot wheels car tires and watching the spinning fans. Chandler’s first eval, which was 6 months after we started therapy and biomed and after he was making eye contact and answering to his name, put him at moderate to severe autism.

Then he understood why I was so emotional.

When I asked about what specific stims he was seeing, he replied that he hadn’t seen any at that point. I told him that he still had one significant one, but I didn't tell him what it was, so see if he could see it as he continued the eval.

He never saw it, and then I realized that I had not seen it in a while either.

Chandler’s last SIB was that when he gets too frustrated, or even too frenzied (sometimes our spontaneous dance parties in Mommy’s office get a little crazy) he bites down on the first two fingers on his right hand. Really hard. His little fingers have big welts on them and I can always tell what kind of a day he has had when he was not with me by looking at his fingers to see how swollen they were.

I had not checked them in a while (he just has not been getting that upset lately), and when I looked at them, they were almost completely healed! The welts are gone, the callouses are gone and the skin is soft. It looks like it has been many weeks since he has bitten himself.

Gone, Gone, Gone!!

“Ginger, does your son have any self-injurious behavior?”

“Why, no. He does not do that any more. That was so 2007. Now his two fingers are virtually indistinguishable from their peers”.

I wanted to write about this right away, but thought better of it as the poor man had not even finished the testing, which turned out to be wise because, after talking with Chandler’s teacher, she pointed out a few subtle stims that he still has (damn that woman, if she wasn’t so “perceptive” and “right” and such a “great teacher” and so “completely invested in my child”, I would give her a piece of my mind, boy howdy).

Dr. Guy (also impressed with him as he calls families on his weekends to work on their kids assessments, who does that?) settled on a formal diagnosis of:

299.0 Autistic Disorder (Rule Out Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified)
315.32 Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder.

He also did an intelligence assessment that showed, big surprise, a 40 point gap between verbal and non-verbal IQ.

He also noted that Chandler had no significant behavioral issues. So now we are down to just dealing with the talking part.

So I know this isn’t formally loosing his diagnosis yet, but I am still really excited about it because his first impression was that he didn’t have ‘autism’ and because three years ago the psychologist who tried to do an IQ assessment gave up because Chandler would not interact with him.

I am going to stay on top of this and when the last few little behavioral quirks are gone, and he firmly moves into PDD land, with the approval and agreement of his crack team of specialists, I will shout it from the top of someplace very, very high.

So stay tuned.

Now let’s all take a minute to look at my beautiful baby:

At chelation last week Webster went to take Chandler to get a sticker out of the sticker bucket while I talked to the doctor. Apparently we talked too long because Webster gave Chandler 46 stickers. A bullet could not have penetrated that shield of stickers.

April 18, 2008

Listen In on the IACC Meeting on April 21st Via Confrence Call

From NAA:

IACC Meeting on April 21st
Listen in live via conference call

There will be a meeting of the Strategic Planning Workgroup formed by the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) on Monday, April 21st from 11 am to 6 pm EST. Workgroup members will review current funding for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research, proposed research initiatives and resources. They will then discuss and make recommendations on prioritization of research initiatives for the IACC strategic plan for ASD research.

The workgroup meeting will be open to the public through a conference call phone number and a web presentation tool on the Internet. Members of the public who participate using the conference call phone number will be able to listen to the meeting but will not be heard. There may be an opportunity for members of the public to submit written comments during the workgroup meeting through the web presentation tool. Submitted comments will be reviewed after the meeting.
Individuals who plan to use these electronic services and need special assistance, such as captioning of the conference call or other reasonable accommodations, should submit a request to Tanya Pryor.

Tanya Pryor
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee
National Institute of Mental Health, NIH
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6187, MSC 9669
Rockville, MD 20892-9669
Phone: 301-443-7153
Fax: 301-480-4415

To register for the meeting, please go to the link below:


The conference call phone number is 1-641-715-3222, access code 693-119-101.

If you experience any technical problems with the conference call phone number or web presentation tool, please contact GoToMeeting at 888-259-8414.

For more information on the IACC, please see the link below:


April 17, 2008

Autism Yesterday

A reminder to get to a screening of Autism Yesterday (Here is the info on our showing in Falmouth Maine tomorrow), or buy it on Amazon.

Check out the trailer:

From the Age of Autism:


By David Kirby

At a time when Big Medicine, Big Government and Big Media are trying hard to make the vaccine-autism debate go away, along comes a quiet little film like “Autism Yesterday” to throw a wrench in the establishment’s best laid plans to stifle the pesky vaccine chatter once and for all.

Anyone out there still declaring that this debate is over, that medical science has fully exonerated mercury and vaccines, and that thousands of parents who insist otherwise don’t know what they are talking about, really should watch THIS film before embarrassing themselves further.

“Autism Yesterday,” a beautifully shot film with a stirring original soundtrack of softly strumming guitars and plaintive but hopeful songs, tells the story of five West Coast families who bucked all conventional wisdom -- and began to recover their kids.

In each story, we see clear before-and-after evidence of a child’s heartbreaking descent into the silent, baffling world of autism, and then their steady, sometimes miraculous progress back towards health, happiness, communication and, yes, recovery.

In each case, the parents explain how they turned to controversial “biomedical interventions” such as wheat and dairy-free diets, or the removal of heavy metals from the body, to treat their ailing children. And the film, in elegant detail, shows us exactly how far these kids have come.

Their progress stands in glaring opposition to all those “experts” who insist that neither mercury nor vaccines could possibly have anything to do with autism, and that biomedical intervention is nothing short of dangerous snake oil, bordering on child abuse.

Many of them, in the process, have denigrated, ridiculed and dismissed parents who are treating their children anyway. Such parents, the media tell us, are overwrought and hyper-emotional, they are desperate and distraught, confused and ignorant, even greedy and litigious.

But watch “Autism Yesterday” and you see and hear a different story – something I have come to know after speaking with thousands of parents in over 30 states: These tireless advocates for children are neither crazy nor stupid. Their thoughtfulness, intelligence, compassion and determination is what strikes us most.

Instead of slamming them, we should be listening very carefully to what they have to say.
One clear message from “Autism Yesterday” is that parents often know what is going on with their kids far better than the professionals. Many doctors dismissed them when they insisted their healthy children regressed into autism. Studies have proven the doctors wrong.

Now, parents are insisting that biomedical treatments, in at least some cases, can virtually make autism go away. And once again, the moms and dads are being dismissed, even laughed at.

But all the derision, scorn and snickering in the world is, to them, irrelevant. As one mother calmly explains about treating these kids: “If you don’t fix ‘em, who will?”

(Managing Editor’s Note: You can watch the trailer for Autism Yesterday HERE. The film will be making its premier in April, stay tuned for more information.)

David Kirby (www.evidenceofharm.com) has been a professional journalist for over 15 years, and has written extensively for The New York Times for the past eight years. Kirby was a contracted writer with the weekly City Section at The Times, where he covered public health, local politics, art and culture, among other subjects. Kirby has also written for a number of national magazines. He was also a foreign correspondent in Mexico and Central America from 1986-1990, where he covered the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, and covered politics, corruption and natural disasters in Mexico. From Latin America, he reported for UPI, the San Francisco Examiner, Newsday, The Arizona Republic, Houston Chronicle and the NBC Radio Network.

April 16, 2008

Andrew Wakefield Gains a Well Known Supporter

Apple Mark reports that Max Clifford, apparent the most well known PR guy in England, showed up at the GMC yesterday and will be offering Wakefield services pro-bono.

The dramatic change in the climate here is not being experienced in the UK. Is that about to change?

UPDATE: Cry Shame has a complete take on the day and the struggling prosecution.

April 15, 2008

AAP Declines to Support Military Dependents in Need of Behavioral Services

Angela Warner of Autism Salutes has been working to get appropriate behavioral services for military dependents with autism. She has drafted a letter to Secretary Gates to that effect. Angela asked the AAP to endorse the letter, and they have declined.

Let's hope they reconsider.

The refusal of the American Academy of Pediatrics to endorse the proposed and MUCH needed and necessary changes to our TRICARE program detailed in my letter to Secretary of Defense, Dr. Robert Gates (post directly below) led me to question in depth, the reasoning behind the academy's refusal. Below you will find in order, the email exchange between myself and Karen Hendricks, AAP Assistant Director of Federal Affairs...

April 14, 2008

AAP Takes Two Steps Forward, One Step Back [Amended]

[FINAL UPDATE: Apparently the missing paragraph was some sort of over site and is now back on the page. Stan has checked into tell us that everything is going well with the AAP. Yay! Sorry for causing any worry!

[UPDATE: From what I can put together this change was made only a few hours after the statement was released (probably morning of April 2) and as such it probably does not represent a positional change. Since this was well before the DAN conference, I don't think it means much. Whew.]

This just in from Pamela Felice:

The AAP has removed the last paragraph from their original press release that they are working with DAN!.

This paragraph specifically:

“Autism is a challenge for pediatricians, their patients and families. By working together, we stand the best chance of helping these children to realize their full potential,” Dr. Jenkins said. “The Academy is committed to working with researchers and treatment groups like Defeat Autism Now! to get closer to finding answers to the multiple causes of autism and determining effective therapies."

although it is still dated April 1 http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/apr08autismday.htm.

This is interesting...and disheartening. I told my husband that something didn't add after watching Tayloe on the Larry King debate. The AAP can not stand on safety to the point of out right lying and then be sincere about working with DAN!


I gotta wonder what those meetings inside the AAP are like right now. Clearly they have some decisions to make and waffling like this does not present a united front.

Again... rise up wise and prudent pediatricians and demand that your leadership cut the crap and do the right thing.

UPDATE: I am told through some back channels that things between DAN! and the AAP are going smoothly and progressing. I very much want that to be true. But you know me, I am from Missouri now. Show me.

Blaylock on Mitochondria and Vaccines

Mitochondria and Vaccines
From Russell L. Blaylock M.D.

As the person who first proposed the microglial/excitotoxin hypothesis (JANA 2003;6(4): 21-35 and J. Amer Phys Surg 2004; 9(2): 46-51) I feel I should explain the connection between microglia/excitotoxicity and mitochondrail dysfunction. My hypothesis was confirmed two years later by Vargis, et al in which they demonstrated chronic levels of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines as well as microglia and astrocytic activation in the brains of 11 autistics from age 5 years to 44 years, even though they never mentioned excitotoxicity as a final mechanism. I wish to address the mitochondrial issue, which has become of major interest with the appearance of the Hannah Poling’s case.

In my original hypothesis, later expanded in a number of other articles, I explained that when the systemic immune system is overactivated, the brain’s special immune system, consisting of microglia and astrocytes, also becomes activated. The microglia normally remain in a quiescent state called ramified microglia. Upon activation, they swell, assume special immune receptors in their membranes and move within the extracellular space. In this activated state they act as immune presenting cells and can secrete a number of inflammatory chemicals, such as IL-1, IL-2, IL-6, IL-12 and IL-18, TNF-alpha, chemokines, complement and two excitotoxins called glutamate and quniolinic acid. They also generate a number of powerful free radicals and lipid peroxidation molecules.

A number of studies have shown that when you use powerful immune adjuvants, as used in vaccines (especially when combined), this inflammatory/excitotoxic reaction within the brain is maximized. With the first vaccine (or natural infection) the brain’s microglia are in a semi-activated stated called primed. If you re-vaccinate the animal or person within 1 to 2 months, these primed microglia overreact intensely, pouring out even higher levels of the excitotoxins, inflammatory cytokines and free radicals. Each subsequent set of vaccinations worsens this process.

These inflammatory/excitotoxic secretions damage the developing brain, which is undergoing its most active development at the very time the child is receiving 24 vaccines. This vaccine schedule exposes the child to a priming HepB vaccine at birth, 6 vaccines at age 2 months, then 5 vaccines at age 4 months, 7 vaccines at 6 months and finally 8 antigens at age one year. Each successive multi-dose barrage of vaccines intensely activates the brain’s microglial system and the microglia activate the astrocytes, which also secretes, inflammatory cytokines, free radicals and excitotoxins.

Experiments in which this pattern of immune stimulation is simulated using a vaccine adjuvant, demonstrate that it produces significant disruption of brain development. The greatest damage in these experiments is to the cerebellum and frontal lobes, which is also the primary sites of damage in autism. Further, food allergins also act as brain microglial activators, thereby worsening and prolonging the original immune/excitotoxic effect produced by the vaccines.

So, how does mercury play into all this. Mercury in extremely small concentrations (nanomolar concentrations) can activate microglia, trigger excitotoxicity and induce significant mitochondrial dysfunction. Blocking the glutamate receptors (that trigger excitotoxicity) also blocks most of the neurotoxic effect of mercury at these concentrations. That is, most of lower-dose effects of mercury in the brain are secondary to excitotoxicity. The mitochondria produce most of the energy used by neurons and a number of studies have shown that suppressing mitochondrial function by itself is not enough to alter brain function, but it is enough to magnify excitotoxic damage. That is, it is the excitotoxicity that is disrupting brain function and development.

A newer study has shown conclusively, that mitochondrial activation using a vaccine adjuvant not only suppresses mitochondrial function but that the damage cause by this mitochondrial suppression is actually produced by excitotoxicity. Blocking excitotoxicity completely blocks the microglial-induced neurotoxicity and mitochondrial damage cause by the vaccine.

A great number of studies have shown that activating the systemic immune system repetitively worsens neurological disorders caused by other things and can initiate neurodegeneration itself, that is prolonged. The inflammatory cytokines interact with glutamate receptors to dramatically increase excitotoxic damage. We know that autistic children have elevated CSF and blood levels of glutamate, which confirms the presence of the excitotoxic process.

Basically, what we see is a process triggered by sequential, massive vaccination that primes and then activates the brain microglial/astrocytic system, triggering the release of massive amounts of inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and excitotoxins. This suppresses the mitochondria and the resulting energy loss further worsening the excitotoxic damage. Because of continued immune activation systemically, both by food allergies and natural infections, the brain’s immune system remains in an active state, leading to suppression of brain pathway development and neural function. This is why the change in the vaccine policy beginning in the mid-1980s, triggered the epidemic of autism. The mercury just aggravated the process.

I warned a number of people and published my warning, that removing the mercury from vaccines would not stop the high incidence of autism, because it was just part of the picture. We must also appreciate that there are a great number of sources of mercury besides vaccine-mainly environmental and from dental amalgam.

For more information on this mechanism you can read my original articles on my website –www.russellblaylockmd.com. Also I have written more papers on my website under the heading -Information. All the information is free. I have several newer articles appearing in Medical Veritas and the Journal of Alternative Therapeutics in Health and Medicine.

Russell L. Blaylock, M.D.

HT: Sophia Lauren

WaPo Reports on Mitochondrial Disorders and Autism

Another article on John Shoffner's presentation.

I would like to call attention to the fact that mitochondrial disorders are not purely of genetic origin, but also the result of toxic injuries from ingredients found in vaccines like thimerosal and aluminum and also pesticides and medications like AZT.

I am of the opinion that one of the reasons that HHS didn't give Jon Poling a hearing on his daughter's autism/vaccine injury claims, and just conceded that her mito disorder plus vaccines triggered her autism, was that they knew he would be able to prove the whole process was started by her vaccines. His multiple hit theory that her first round of shots gave her the mitochondrial disorder and her last interacted with them to trigger the autism is probably right, and they know it, so best to keep part one of the process underwraps and still try to get away with calling it a 'rare genetic condition' even if they had to admit to the last part.

The media is apparently not ready to report that these mitochondrial dysfunctions that interact with vaccines to cause autism as in Hannah's case, can themselves be triggered by an earlier round of shots, but I am sure that someone will get bold and report it soon.

Things are changing faster and faster as Kent Heckenlively so eloquently expressed when he compared the fall of the 'no link' party line and it's CDC proponents to the exponentially speedy fall of communism.


UPDATE: Boyd Haley, Ph.D. Chemistry Department Chair at the University of Kentucky checks in.

"The research of Dr. Jill James showing lower reduced glutathione levels in autistics is a very strong indication that these children are suffering from oxidative stress. Dr. Woody McGinnis has research that indicates this also. Low glutathione can be caused by many toxic insults , including viral, bacterial and heavy metal or organic toxicants. Old men with muscle wasting disease have low glutathione levels which can be treated with some effectiveness with melatonin according to a past publication. Melatonin reportedly (Dr. Bernie Rimland) was one item that helped many autistics. Basically, I think that treating glutathione production by appropriate (and I don’t know what that is at this time) supplementation and removing any toxicant involved would be the best approach towards improving these children." - Boyd Haley


"Regarding “the cause for mitochondrial disorders quest” just google or medline ‘mercury effects on mitochondria’. Researchers have made careers looking for genetic causes of mitochondrial disorders in certain patients without ever eliminating the likely possibility that these individuals are mercury toxic or toxic with some other heavy metal. Trust me, not one single genetic screen of individuals with mitochondrial disorder will have included a survey of the number of dental amalgams the individuals had---and mercury from amalgams accounts for about 80% of the total mercury body burden. Now, consider that 85% of dentists have abnormal porphyrin profiles that indicate they are mercury toxic as do a large percentage of autistic children. The site of inhibition of the porphyrin profile is on the inner mitochondrial membrane---so mercury is in the mitochondria and doing biological damage on porphyrin (or heme) synthesis and WE DON’T KNOW ALL OF WHAT ELSE IT IS DOING. But we do know that in tests both the citric acid cycle and the electron transport system (ETS) are dramatically inhibited by low levels of mercury." - Boyd Haley

Muscle Weakness Found in Some Autistic Children
By Serena Gordon
Washington Post
Sunday, April 13, 2008; 12:00 AM

SUNDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that muscle weakness in a child with autism may point to an underlying genetic defect that's causing mitochondrial disease, which means the muscles don't get the energy they need.

Conversely, it's possible that the mitochondrial disease may also play a role in the development of autism, perhaps by preventing the brain from getting the energy it needs to perform properly, the researchers noted.

"In large studies of kids with autism, about 20 percent have markers of mitochondrial disease in the blood," explained Dr. John Shoffner, an associate professor of biology at Georgia State University and president of Medical Neurogenetics.

Shoffner recently completely a retrospective analysis of 37 children with autism spectrum disorders and found that 65 percent of these children -- children who had been referred to him because their doctors suspected additional problems -- had mitochondrial defects.

He was expected to present the findings April 13 at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting, in Chicago.

Mitochondria are found in every cell of the body, with the exception of red blood cells, according to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (UMDF). Mitochondria are vital to survival, because they make oxygen available to cells and metabolize food into energy for cells to thrive. Defects in mitochondria can lead to cell injury, or even cell death, according to UMDF.

Symptoms of mitochondrial disease depend on which body system is affected but may include muscle weakness, loss of muscle control, poor growth, heart disease, diabetes, developmental delays, an increased risk of infection and more.

Shoffner said that the mitochondrial energy production system is the only one in the body that requires two genomes to work -- genes inherited from both the mother and the father, and genes exclusively from the mother. "To make this system work, it requires a lot of genes. Hence the opportunity for lots of problems," said Shoffner, who added that there are several hundred known mitochondrial disorders.

Twenty-four (65 percent) of the children included in this study had genetic defects in their skeletal muscles. However, that doesn't mean that 65 percent of children with autism likely have mitochondrial disease. This was a select population of kids with autism, ones that had specifically been referred, because their doctors suspected a problem.

But, Shoffner pointed out that as many as one in five youngsters with autism spectrum disorders have shown signs of mitochondrial disease.

"If you're talking about 20 percent of kids with autism, that's a whole lot of children, and may represent an important segment of the autism spectrum disorder population. And we may be getting a foothold into the underlying cause of autism spectrum disorders," he said, adding, "This is a really important step forward that lets us put effort into understanding the mechanisms of disease."

"This study is a call to action. We need to know what is the real prevalence of mitochondrial conditions in children with autism," said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer for Autism Speaks. "The more we can identify these subgroups of kids, the more we're going to parse apart the many forms of autism. This gives us clues to etiology."

"If we find that mitochondrial disease is a prevalent condition, having a better understanding of the kinds of symptoms that children may show if they have it might be helpful for parents," she said.

Shoffner said these findings may also open up new avenues of research into potentially more effective treatments for the future.


SOURCES: John M. Shoffner, M.D., associate professor, biology, Georgia State University, and president, Medical Neurogenetics, Atlanta; Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., chief science officer, Autism Speaks; April 13, 2008, presentation, American Academy of Neurology annual meeting, Chicago

Andrew Wakefield on Autism One Radio Today

Monday, April 14th - Autism One Radio

12:00 noon ET
Polly Tommey presents: Autism Issues Around the World
The MMR & Autism: Dr. Andrew Wakefield's GMC Hearing
- An Update from London

Guests: Dr. Carol Stott and Jim Moody, Esquire
Following Polly Tommey's program from outside the GMC inquiry in London last month, she returns to provide an update on the progress of the hearing as the defense case approaches its conclusion. Polly will be attending and listening to the proceedings and then talking to those following the inquiry closely, including Dr. Carol Stott, psychiatrist and colleague of Dr Wakefield, and Jim Moody, leading US medical lawyer.


April 13, 2008

Neurologist Finds that More Than 60% of His Autistic Patients Have Mitochondrial Disorders

"Shoffner wanted to see if he could identify the underlying genetic mechanisms that might explain this link.

He evaluated genetic samples and clinical information gathered on 37 children diagnosed with autism who had been evaluated at his clinic for mitochondrial disease.

They found more than 60 percent of these children had mitochondrial defects."

Now this is not a random sample and is much higher than the Portuguese study (20%), so until these numbers start to settle to a smaller ball park than 'between 20 and 60 percent' in studies with better sampling, we should not hold too closely to this number. But if they do end up settling near Shoffner's experience, it will be safe to say that CDC's claims of 'rare' are really, really wrong and probably criminal.

New autism finding hope
Date: 13/04/2008

CHICAGO, April 13 (Reuters) - U.S. researchers have found a genetic link between autism and a muscle-weakening disorder known as mitochondrial disease, they said on Sunday, in a finding that may open new avenues of research into the causes of autism.

"Recent studies have suggested that as many 20 percent of patients with autism have markers for mitochondrial disease," said Dr. John Shoffner, a neurologist and geneticist at Medical Neurogenetics in Atlanta, who presented his findings at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in Chicago.

"There has really not been much work done so far to push that issue," Shoffner said in a telephone interview.

Mitochondrial diseases are a set of genetic disorders in which energy-producing structures in cells are impaired. The disease is often triggered by an illness, such as a high fever, which can result in severe muscle weakening.

Shoffner wanted to see if he could identify the underlying genetic mechanisms that might explain this link.

He evaluated genetic samples and clinical information gathered on 37 children diagnosed with autism who had been evaluated at his clinic for mitochondrial disease.

They found more than 60 percent of these children had mitochondrial defects.

Shoffner said the finding needs to be confirmed in other studies, but it does help to validate the hypothesis of a link between the two conditions in a subset of patients.

"This is a fundamental first step," Shoffner said in a telephone interview. "This gives us a great foothold for moving forward with this population -- asking better, more precise questions."


No one knows what causes autism, but researchers think it is likely that several genes contribute.

Some autism advocates have seized on the case of a Georgia girl with a rare mitochondrial disease and autism-like symptoms who won federal compensation in a case arguing a vaccine led to her condition.

Government health officials say there is no scientific evidence to suggest that vaccines cause autism, which is part of a spectrum of disorders that can have relatively mild symptoms or can severely disable a child by interfering with speech and behavior.

Shoffner said most children with autism spectrum disorders do not have recognizable abnormalities in mitochondria, but a group of these children have significant defects.

"We are opening avenues of additional research into autism spectrum disorders and new ideas about what might be causing these disorders to develop," he said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about one in every 150 U.S. children has autism or a related disorder such as Asperger's syndrome, which is marked by mild social awkwardness.

Several studies have suggested that genes involved with communication pathways in the brain may contribute to autism, and Shoffner thinks it is possible that cells with impaired ability to convert food into energy may play a role.

"It certainly sits at a very important place in cellular metabolism that can significantly alter neuronal (nerve cell) development," he said.

Insensitive Jerk Makes a Good Point

Last week Nick Jameson, college smart ass, wrote a piece on his reaction to the autism awareness campaign currently under way. One currently struggling with autism might be put off by his callousness until one remembers that he is only 22 and that we were all pretty much insensitive smart asses at 22.

I would encourage all to allow Nick a chance to grow and check back with him in 10 years or so when he is expecting his first child and see if maturity has tempered his stance.

But what is useful from Nick, random college punk, is this reaction:

For example, what is the purpose of putting up a billboard that is telling me a child is born with autism every 20 minutes? What can I possibly do other than sit in my car and mutter to myself, “Well that sucks.” Maybe if there was a cure or even ways to help prevent autism, it might make more sense to have a billboard. Then it would reinforce concepts in people’s head that they could apply later like “only you could prevent forest fires” or “don’t eat cheese before noon.” But frankly, all this billboard is really saying is, “Beware, autistic people are everywhere,” and I’m sure that isn’t the message they want to get across. We already know autism exists; give us something we can work with. If the autism front wants to put us through a year of sappy ads and TV specials, than at least make it worth the time and money and headache. Teach us something. I was on my way to New York City this weekend and every toll booth was littered with autism propaganda. Did I learn anything? No. There are more intelligent ways to get out a message to the public.

Does Nick know that there are successful treatments available? Does Nick know that there are some kids who are completely recover from autism? Does Nick know that there are things that he can do to prevent his own children (should he ever become soft hearted enough for a woman to agree to marry and/or procreate with him) from slipping in to autism?

Apparently not. And that is the fault of the media who won't report the whole story.

So our young Nick has made a great point. One that parents like me have been trying to make for years now. "Autism Exists" is a message that everyone got a few years back now. But the important message, "Autism is Treatable and Preventable" is one that the media will not share with him.

What is it going to take for them to tell the whole story?

In ten years, when Nick is expecting, will he have heard this message from the media? Or, like us, will he hear it from another parent on the playground after Nick Jr. is diagnosed with autism?

Addendum: Autism Speaks had a huge chance this month to get the treatment message out and yet again, they are screwing children by with holding the important message. They certainly have the cash to do it.

April 12, 2008

David Kirby's Comments at the Vaccine Safety Meeting On Friday

Reports and transcripts from the NVAC meeting on Friday are trickling out. Age of Autism will be posting some later.

For now, here are David Kirby's comments. He brings to their attention important points about public trust and challenges Dr. Marie "Scientifically Illiterate Parents" McCormick that her rush to 'reassure' parents will be fruitless if real answers to all the questions parents have are not given. (From what I have heard about the meeting, Dr. McCormick still does not get that her 'just take my word for it, I am a doctor' means nothing any more.)

Kirby then goes on to put some of those questions on the record. My list of questions is a good deal longer, but even getting these addressed properly is a good start.

If they make no attempt to address them, then we know that this is just for show.

Hello, my name is David Kirby, I am an author and journalist, and my only conflict of interest is that I wrote a book about vaccines and autism. But I don’t plan on selling any books here today.

This has been a really extraordinary meeting, and I am very happy that everyone came together to discuss this important topic. I will probably be reporting on this in various venues, though I am not quite sure what my, what we call “take home message,” is going to be.

But I do want to say, and at the risk of overstatement: History will judge each and every one of you. A year from now, five years from now, ten years from now, people like me will look back on the history of vaccine safety in this country, and look at you folks, and say, “What did they do?”

Now, I am going to guess from your body language that you know that there is an issue here. We have a problem with the vaccine schedule. We don’t know what it is.

You have the power to listen to these community people, and make some decisions. And you are maybe going to make the decision that you are going to look into this situation, and change things.

Or, you are going to decide to protect the status quo. And if you do that, you do that with several risks.

One risk is that there really is a problem, perhaps, with the vaccine schedule. We know that Hannah Poling was injured by her vaccines, and now she has autism.

For all we know, some kid right now with mitochondrial dysfunction getting vaccinated with multiple vaccines may get seizures, may get fevers. We don’t know what the ultimate outcome for that child may be. Keep that in mind as you are revising the schedule – or not.

Now, you can choose to support the status quo, and pretend that we don’t have a problem with this. But if you think you have trust problems now, you can imagine how far away you are going to send parents from vaccination.

I am extremely pro-vaccine. But I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and I talk to young parents in my neighborhood all the time. These are not autism parents, these are not vaccine activists.

These are frightened, young Americans who are looking to you for guidance. And you know what? They don’t trust you. And I take no pleasure in saying that.

But you have a real problem on your hands, and as a journalist, I am here telling you: Yes, they want to vaccinate their kids. Yes, they want to believe in the medical establishment, and the government. But they don’t trust you, a good number of them. And I know that doesn’t sound nice to hear. But you have to take that into account.

A couple of other comments that were made here today - and as a journalist, I probably will mention this in my reporting – Dr. McCormick asked “How quickly can we get the information out to the public after these RCAs (Rapid Cycle Analysis of vaccine adverse events) are done?”

She wanted to know so that we can reassure the public. Well, that data is not always going to be reassuring. And I understand the desire to reassure. Everybody wants to reassure. It feels good to reassure people.

But when people have genuine concerns about vaccine safety, and all they get is reassurances when their questions are not being addressed directly, that doesn’t build trust, that doesn’t support transparency. Instead, that will drive parents away from vaccination in very dangerous droves. And nobody in this room wants to see that happen. We all want to protect the children of this country.

Now, I just have a few very quick questions about the vaccine schedule:

● We have been hearing a lot of talk from the CDC lately about flexibility. And my question is: If there is flexibility, and parents do have the right to talk to their doctor, will Hepatitis B vaccine still be basically mandatory at birth? Or will parents have a right to say, “No, I prefer to wait a while?”

● On that subject, what exactly is the rationale for giving Hepatitis B vaccine at birth? I have heard about four or five different rationales from different public health people. And without knowing the exact reason, it makes it very hard to decide whether it is a good idea or not.

● I would like to know, if MMR titers can be offered to parents, so that after the first set of vaccinations, if the child has developed immunity, is it necessary to revaccinate? Would a certificate be available for that child to prove that they have immunity, and don’t need to get revaccinated?

● On MMR, can we possibly separate out the M, M and the R, if parents want? Can we encourage industry to produce more monovalent vaccine? And can we work with parents who want to go that route?

● And again, can we encourage them to come back and get the other vaccines? No one wants children to go unprotected. But parents have reasons for asking these questions, and if they are not given the proper answers, they may just not vaccinate.

● Can we get testing on vaccinated versus unvaccinated populations in this country? To give us some idea if there really are any differences? Maybe there are no more adverse events in the vaccinated over the unvaccinated population. But if there are, that will at least give us some direction of things to go look at.

● What is being done to identify children with mitochondrial dysfunction, before vaccination – whether it is a nuclear DNA test, a mitochondrial DNA test, or even just a simple blood test for certain metabolic markers? If we are able to identify these children, I realize that it is very precarious. They should be first in line to be vaccinated, because they might be more at risk for regression due to febrile infections.

● But, should we create a separate schedule for those children? Yes, they may need to be vaccinated first, but that one-size schedule does not fit all, including the children with mitochondrial dysfunction.

● And finally, my last question, (let me look at my notes), when we talk about relative risk, can we also look at lifetime risks? Particularly for the flu vaccine, which some people get every year. And my understanding is that lifetime risks are actually magnified quite a bit when you talk about yearly vaccination.

These are not just rhetorical questions. I don’t expect an answer, but I did want these questions to be put on the record.

Thank you very much. I appreciate the chance to speak.

Local Bloomington, IL Doctors Don't Show Much Interest in Autism

Reading articles like this is discouraging. After all that has happened this month to see an autism presentation at a University canceled due to lack of interest from doctors is quite telling.

It brought to mind the comments of one of the mothers in Autism: The Musical. 'I don't know how to make them value her'.

Why do so few doctors value our children?

Local doctors don't show much interest in autism

My family was happy to see that The Pantagraph had a blurb about the upcoming discussion regarding early identification of autism and autism awareness sponsored by the Autism Spectrum Institute, Autism Clinic at Illinois State University, the Autism Society of McLean Cunty, SPICE, Marcfirst and Child and Families Connection 16 at Ewing Manor on April 3.

I was looking forward in hearing what Dr. Charles Morton had to discuss and to pass on to the local physicians - the target audience.

When I phoned the Autism Clinic at ISU on Tuesday to inquire if this was open to the public, the clinic informed me that, due to low physician response/interest, they were canceling the presentation.

Much to my chagrin, this solidifies my theory that the local medical community doesn't appear to be interested in this very important health issues facing us as a society today.

I know that that might be an over-generalization, but I have seen it.

There were only a total of 10 physicians responding to attend; I think that is telling.

The local universities, service centers and private practice therapists have much to offer. My family believes that early identification and intervention are key in helping a child become all that they are able to be and more.

One in 150 children will be affected by autism and those numbers will be increasing. So if you don't know anyone affected by autism, you soon will.

Julie Gifford

Potential Alzheimer's Drug Reverses Condition in Minutes

This Daily Mail article exclaims that this drug, that has not yet been the subject of clinical studies in the use of Alzheimer's, may actually be an immediate cure for some. The drug, Enbrel, is injected into the neck and spine and then the patient is tilted so that the drug enters the brain.

What does this have to do with autism? People in the autism community have long speculated that the two conditions may really be the same thing, toxic injury causing neural inflammation, in two different age groups. Aluminum has been linked to the development of Alzheimer's and aluminum is the adjuvant used in vaccines to get the immune system to respond

Researchers found that Aluminum leads to cell death in the brains of mice last year.

The relevance of this drug? It is an anti inflammatory used to treat arthritis, and it blocks the inflammation process in the brain when used on Alzheimer's patients.

The clues just keep coming together.

New hope for Alzheimer's sufferers after new treatment 'restores memory in minutes'
The Daily Mail
11th April 2008

New therapy could hold out hope for Britain's 400,000 Alzheimer's sufferers
Doctors are calling for a clinical trial of an experimental drug treatment that it is claimed can reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease "in minutes".

U.S. researchers say the treatment allowed an 82-year- old sufferer to recognise his wife for the first time in years.

In the UK, specialists believe the claims should be properly tested as only a few patients have been treated so far.


The treatment involves injecting a drug called Enbrel - which is normally used to treat arthritis - into the spine at the neck.

Patients are then tilted to encourage blood flow into the brain where the drug is designed to block a chemical responsible for inflammation. At least one Alzheimer's patient had his symptoms reversed "in minutes" while others have shown some continuing improvement in problems such as forgetfulness and confusion after weekly injections.

They needed less help from carers during treatment, which appears to reach a plateau at three months.

Around 50 people are being treated by the Institute of Neurological Research, a private clinic in California, with some having had injections for three years.

In one case, the clinic has video evidence of Marvin Miller, 82, which showed he was unable to answer basic questions by a nurse, or identify-everyday objects like a bracelet and a pencil.

Shortly afterwards he is injected with the drug and it is claimed that five minutes later he could greet his shocked wife, who said he had not recognised her for years.

The experiment follows the discovery that levels of TNF (tumour necrosis factor) can be up to 25 times higher in the fluid surrounding the brain in sufferers of Alzheimer's disease.

Enbrel, a biologic treatment licensed for rheumatoid arthritis, binds to excess TNF in the body and makes it inactivate.

When used by arthritis sufferers, the drug is self-administered by injection and researchers had to develop a way of injecting the drug into the spine in order to get an effect in brain cells.

Enbrel is not approved for treating Alzheimer's in the U.S. or in the UK and is regarded at this stage as a highly experimental therapy.

Professor Edward Tobinick, of the University of California Los Angeles and director of the Institute for Neurological Research, is leading the research.

He said the latest report was an in-depth account of one patient's response to treatment.

He said: "It makes practical changes that are significant and perceptible, making a difference to his ability to do activities of daily living such as getting around, accomplishing things and conversing."

He added: "Some patients have been able to start driving again. They don't come back to normal but the change is good enough for patients to want to continue treatment, and some have been doing so for three years.

"We are working with several universities and larger trials are getting under way."

Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said: "On the surface these results are exciting but we need to treat the study with caution.

"There are large gaps in the research, which only involved a small pilot group and we cannot draw any conclusions until a controlled trial is carried out."

Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said: "It is too early to speak of a miracle cure and we need to do more research into this."

April 11, 2008

The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation Checks In on Autism

How exciting would it be for Mito docs to show up at Autism One and start talking with DAN docs. When two different parts of medicine figure out they are connected, that is when real connections and discoveries take place.

So glad that everyone is ignoring the IOM's recommendation to stop looking into this line of inquiry.

Isn't it about time the IOM retracts their 2004 decision? They are starting to look a little silly at this point.

UMDF Statement on the Connection Between Mitochondrial Disease and Autism

PITTSBURGH, April 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation released the following statement from its executive director and CEO, Chuck Mohan, in light of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee's (NVAC) meeting of its Vaccine Safety Working Group and recent published reports of possible links between mitochondrial disorders and autism.

"Recent published reports about the potential links between mitochondrial disorders and autism demonstrate the urgent need for more research into mitochondrial disease, a devastating and often fatal illness.

"Mitochondrial dysfunction has also been implicated in Alzheimer's Dementia, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, heart disease and diabetes.

"Mitochondrial disease is not rare. Researchers estimate that every 15 minutes a child is born with mitochondrial disease or will be diagnosed with mitochondrial disease by the age of 10. Most affected children do not live beyond their teenage years.

"The National Institutes of Health currently spends about $11.8 million on research into mitochondrial-related research -- with only about one third of that earmarked for primary mitochondrial disease research. That is less than 1/1000 of one percent of NIH's $29B annual budget. That is why the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation supports the effort by the National Institutes of Health to place mitochondrial disease research on an NIH roadmap.

"Mitochondrial disease deprives the body of energy making it difficult to function properly. It can affect any organ of the body and at any age. The brain may be impaired, vision may be dim, muscles may twitch or may be too weak to allow the body to walk or write, the heart may be weakened, and the ability to eat and digest food can be compromised.

"Finding the cause of and cure for mitochondrial disease would not only alleviate the suffering of families around the world, it would also unlock the door to a world of scientific knowledge and could help lead the way to possible treatments for many other diseases."

Jon Poling: Mitochondrial Dysfunction Not Rare In Autism

Dr. Poling suggesting medically defining "Mitochondrial Autism". I have been calling it "Poling Syndrome".

No matter what it is called, "what Hannah has" has been determined by HHS to be a vaccine injury. It is time for the medical community to define it, find what the percentage of kids with it are, screen for it and catch it before it descends into the "symptoms of Autism".

And if the medical authorities won't hear it from me, hear it from Jon Poling:

"As a neurologist, I have cared for those afflicted with SSPE (a rare but dreaded neurological complication of measles), paralytic polio and tetanus. If these serious vaccine-preventable diseases again become commonplace, the fault will rest solely on the shoulders of public health leaders and policymakers who have failed to heed the writing on the wall (scribbled by my 9-year old daughter)."

Reform the vaccine schedule before everyone abandons it.

Father: Child's case shifts autism debate
By Jon S. Poling
For the Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/11/08

Autism in the U.S. has reached epidemic levels, at 1 in 150 children. Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has recently upgraded autism to "an urgent health threat." The most contentious issue of the autism debate is the link to routine childhood vaccines. My daughter's case, Hannah Poling v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has changed this debate forever. Hannah has pointed us in a new and promising direction —- the mitochondria.

On Nov. 9, 2007, HHS medical experts conceded through the Department of Justice that Hannah's autism was triggered by nine childhood vaccinations administered when she was 19 months of age. This concession was granted without any courtroom proceedings or expert testimony, effectively preventing any public hearing discussing what happened to Hannah and why. Contrary to some reports, the Special Masters, "judges" who preside over the "vaccine court," did not issue a decision.

Four months later, on March 6, with trepidation my wife, Terry, and I stepped forward to announce this news —- providing hope and awareness to other families. The HHS expert documents that led to this concession and accompanying court documents remain sealed, though our family has already permitted release of Hannah's records to those representing the almost 5, 000 other autistic children awaiting their day in vaccine court.

Mitochondria key

To understand Hannah's case, it is important to understand mitochondria, which act like batteries in our cells to produce energy critical for normal function. Because the government's concession hinged on the presence of Hannah's underlying medical condition, mitochondrial dysfunction, some claim the decision is relevant to very few other children with autism. As a neurologist, scientist and father, I disagree.

Emerging evidence suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction may not be rare at all among children with autism. In the only population-based study of its kind, Portuguese researchers confirmed that at least 7.2 percent, and perhaps as many as 20 percent, of autistic children exhibit mitochondrial dysfunction. While we do not yet know a precise U.S. rate, 7.2 percent to 20 percent of children does not qualify as "rare." In fact, mitochondrial dysfunction may be the most common medical condition associated with autism.

Biological markers

Although unlikely, if the Portuguese studies are incorrect and mitochondrial dysfunction were found to be a rarity occurring in less than 1 percent of all autism, it would still impact up to 10,000 children (250,000 worldwide), based on current estimates that 1 million people in the U.S. (25 million worldwide) have autism. If, on the other hand, the research showing that 7.2 percent to 20 percent of children with autism have mitochondrial dysfunction is correct, then the implications are both staggering and urgent.

Autism researchers do not currently understand whether mitochondrial dysfunction causes autism or is simply a secondary biological marker. Autism clearly has many different causes, and should really be separated into multiple autism(s). I propose that we clearly identify and research the subpopulation term of "mitochondrial autism," which is distinguished by its unique biological, but not genetic, markers.

Based on what we know now, it is time to follow the prestigious Institute of Medicine 2004 report regarding autism and vaccines:

"Determining a specific cause (for autism) in the individual is impossible unless the etiology is known and there is a biological marker. Determining causality with population-based methods requires either a well-defined at-risk population or a large effect in the general population."

A paradigm shift

When the IOM report was published, mitochondrial dysfunction defining an autistic subpopulation was not firmly established. Today there is no doubt that mitochondrial dysfunction represents a distinct autism subpopulation biological marker. I urge health officials and the IOM to embrace their own report and pursue this breakthrough in the science of autism. National public health leaders, including those at CDC, must now recognize the paradigm shift caused by this biological marker with regard to their current position of dispelling a vaccine-autism link.

In light of the Hannah Poling concession, science must determine more precisely how large the mitochondrial autism subpopulation is: 1 percent, 7.2 percent, 20 percent?

Based on the 2004 IOM analysis, if the mitochondrial autism subpopulation is found to be relatively uncommon, then all conclusions from prior epidemiological studies refuting an autism-vaccination link must be discarded. New studies then need to be performed exclusively with the mitochondrial subpopulation. If mitochondrial autism turns out to be common, then we could re-analyze the data from prior studies to determine if these studies were powered sufficiently based on a predicted effect size. If not powered appropriately, the conclusion refuting an autism-vaccine link would again have to be rejected. These statistical concepts are basic.

The current vaccine schedule, co-sponsored by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, injures a small but significant minority of children, my daughter unfortunately being one of those victims. Every day, more parents and some pediatricians reject the current vaccine schedule. In an abundance of caution, meaningful reform must be performed urgently to prevent the re-emergence of serious diseases like polio or measles.

Need for research

As a neurologist, I have cared for those afflicted with SSPE (a rare but dreaded neurological complication of measles), paralytic polio and tetanus. If these serious vaccine-preventable diseases again become commonplace, the fault will rest solely on the shoulders of public health leaders and policymakers who have failed to heed the writing on the wall (scribbled by my 9-year old daughter).

The mitochondrial autism scenario that my daughter has so eloquently painted has the CDC and public health experts logically cornered. Denial and fear tactics won't close Pandora's Box. Whether we find that mitochondrial autism is rare or common, there is urgent research left to be done to fully understand the interrelationship of vaccines, autism and mitochondria.

Reform of the vaccine schedule will be an important part of the solution, whether vaccines play a major or minor role in autism. Our public health agencies and programs need a reconstruction plan. Day one of the reconstruction hopefully starts at the Vaccine Safety Advisory Committee's Working Group, to be held at HHS headquarters today in Washington.

Dr. Jon S. Poling is a practicing neurologist in Athens and clinical assistant professor at the Medical College of Georgia.

Listen In on the NVAC Meeting Today

It is going now, until 3pm.

listen-only conference line has been established for the Vaccine Safety Meeting on April 11th. Call-in participants will only be able to hear the discussion. The call in number is 1-800-988-9711, passcode 3634862. If you would like to send comments, please e-mail them to nvpo@hhs.gov.

Christiane Northrup Recommends Passing on Gardasil

The HPV Vaccine
Release Date: April 11, 2008
Duration: 4 min 52 sec
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease associated with cervical cancer. In this podcast, Dr. Northrup cautions women against the new HPV vaccine and explains why she is not recommending it to her own daughters.

April 10, 2008

Congress Invesigates CDC Over Beryllium Dust in Ohio

"...chief Investigative Correspondent Armen Keteyian has found the CDC may again be putting politics ahead of public health..."

You don't say? Well that just doesn't sound like Julie Gerberding's CDC, now does it?

Hey... while Congress is there investigating anyway... could they just find out for us what the heck is up with all those questions we have been asking with the whole vaccines cause autism thing?

What is opening one or two more file cabinets going to hurt?

(Trying to count in my head all the CDC scandals in the last 2 years or so, Autism/Vaccines, FEMA trailers, De Rosa, Beryllium Dust, spending the HIV budget on porn and hookers, and several million dollars of CDC computers stolen from the inside. Oh and fat people mad at them for overstating the health risks of obesity. Did I miss anything?)

Did CDC Cave To Pressure Over Toxic Dust?
Documents Obtained Exclusively By CBS News Raise Questions About Public Health Study
April 10, 2008
CBS News

CBS News reported in January that the Centers for Disease Control, the nation's top public health agency, under pressure from FEMA, suppressed a study citing the long-term health risks of living in travel trailers. Now Chief Investigative Correspondent Armen Keteyian has found the CDC may again be putting politics ahead of public health. Previously undisclosed documents obtained exclusively by CBS News raise new questions as to whether high-ranking CDC officials caved to political and corporate pressure - and shut down a major public health study putting the residents of a small Ohio town at risk.

"It's worrisome; it's very worrisome."

Bernadette Eriksen lives in Elmore, Ohio, where the material engineering company Brush Wellman operates the world's largest manufacturing plant for beryllium, a metal used to make parts found in nuclear weapons, golf clubs and computer chips.

During manufacturing it produces a toxic dust. Exposure can cause an incurable, often-fatal lung disease and possibly cancer, Keteyian reports.

In 2001, in response to community concerns, the CDC began looking at whether beryllium dust from the plant was a health hazard. By 2005, CDC scientists pledged a thorough investigation - with blood tests for up to 200 residents and household dust readings.

"A sigh of relief comes over your family because testing is going to be done and the answers are coming," Eriksen said.

In the spring of 2006, Brush Wellman threatened to withdraw plans for a new multi-million dollar plant because of the CDC research.

At the urging of the company president, then-Ohio Gov. Bob Taft sent a handwritten note, obtained by CBS News to Mike Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services. In it, he complained that actions in Elmore by the CDC's agency for toxic substances, known as ATSDR, "are a deterrent to choosing Ohio," adding, "Please have someone look into this and get back to me..."

Within days, the note was forwarded from Leavitt's office to that of CDC Director Julie Gerberding, and quickly passed down to ATSDR managers.

By April 14, an internal document reveals the agency was now taking "...a fresh look at scientific and related ... issues," and a "more limited approach" in Elmore. Only 18 residents - not 200 - would get blood tests.

Household dust readings were out.

In September 2006, just five months after the Ohio governor had sent his letter and shortly after ATSDR had packed its bags and left town, Brush Wellman decided that Elmore would be the site of its new 100,000-square-foot production facility.

Congress is investigating. Both Brush Wellman and Health and Human Services declined an interview request with CBS News. Dr. Thomas Sinks, a director at the CDC, said they used the best science.

"There was no political pressure that affected our decision of what we were going to do," Sinks said.

Keteyian asked: "No pressure from the governor of Ohio? No pressure from Secretary Leavitt? No pressure from Dr. Gerberding, who runs this agency?"

"I received no pressure that would have altered a decision that we made to go forward to use the most definitive tests we could," Sinks said.

But Eriksen said: "If we cannot rely on these agencies that come in on a big white horse and make all these promises, who are we going to trust?"

Lisa Randall, Vaccine Safety Working Group , Voices 4 Vaccines, The Task Force for Child Survival, Pharma Dollars and The World Bank

Yes I know that is a long and confusing name for an article. But it is apt as this article will be long and confusing.

Yesterday I brought to you a piece about the composition of the CDC's Vaccine Safety Working group that is meeting for the first time tomorrow in DC. It read in part:

"The National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC), Vaccine Safety Working Group (VSWG) will meet for the first time on April 11, 2008 in Washington DC. The autism community's vaccine safety concerns are not represented within this panel.

The charter for NVAC calls for participation by representatives from "parent organizations concerned with immunization.""

Here is the information from the CDC's web site.

Well, one of the people invited to present information to the Working Group tomorrow in a segment entitled: "Interacting with the Public" is Lisa Randall, a long time advocate of vaccination; and a long time critic of vaccine/autism theory and biomedical intervention for autism. Lisa opposed removing mercury from vaccines.

Today there has been some questioning as to whether or not she really presenting as a member of the 'public'.

I am having a time following this, and people are still trying to work it all out, so please be patient with me and I try to bring this story to you and get more information.

Lisa Randall is a an attorney and "policy consultant" for Immunization Action Coalition, or Immunize.org, a group that is funded in part by the CDC and by pharmaceutical companies Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Wyeth, Sanofi Pasteur, Novartis, CSL iotherapies, MedImmune, and Baxter Healthcare Corp.

Dan Olmsted mentioned Immunize.org when they opposed removing mercury from vaccines.

So is she a representative of the 'public' or of pharmaceutical companies?

She is also appears to represent Voices 4 Vaccines, a new and mysterious organization that JB Handley wrote about today on the Age of Autism. Handley tried to get information on the group (there is not much on their web site) and found that the domain name was registered to The Task Force for Child Survival and Development, another vaccine group, not so much formed by the public as much as, "the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the United Nations Development Program, the World Bank, and the Rockefeller Foundation to achieve the goal of universal child immunization by 1990."

So in order to see just what Voices 4 Vaccines was, who was running it and who was paying for it, Kelli Ann Davis made some calls today.

First she called Immunize.org and was told that Lisa Randall was not in and does not have an office there, but is a consultant. So then she called the Executive Director of the Taskforce for Child Survival, Mark Rosenberg, to whom Voices4Vaccines.org is registered and asked him the two important questions.

1. Who is on the board of directors of Voices 4 Vaccines?

2. Where do they get their funding?

Mr. Rosenberg would not tell Kelli, only referring her back to Lisa Randall.

Kelli remarked that she could not get a hold of Ms. Randall, and she was writing a piece that had to be ready tomorrow morning for the Vaccine Safety Working Group meeting, and needed the information today.

But again Mr. Rosenberg declined to answer the questions, referring her back to Ms. Randall.

5 times.

She asked 5 times, he refused to tell her 5 times.

So Kelli, and me too, would like to know. Who is Voices 4 Vaccines? Is this the 'public' that Lisa Randall is representing? And if it is, who are the members of the 'public'? Or is this another group funded by corporate interests like Immunize.org and the Taskforce for Child Survival?

When Ms. Randall offers information to the Working Group tomorrow, for them to work on, will it be as a member of the public or as someone who is financially benefiting from pharmaceutical companies?

And where is the transparency?

Peter Bell of Autism Speaks and Barbara Loe Fisher of NVIC will be speaking, but there is no secret about who they are, who they are affiliated with, what their agenda is and who finances their groups

If anyone has any light to shed on any of this, let me know.

US News and World Report Gets Reasonable

Dr. Healy ends with a great point about the IOM 'show's over, nothing to see here, move along decision'. It is almost like the IOM didn't want our advance our understanding.

UPDATE: Dan Olmsted's comments from AOA:

"More and more mainstream experts are standing up for the vaccine court and Hannah Poling and her parents -- and deserve our thanks and support. The latest is Dr. Bernadine Healy. Her bio from U.S. News & World Report, where the article we're pointing out is appearing in the current issue: "Dr. Bernadine Healy is Health Editor for U.S.News & World Report and writes the On Health column. She is a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and has served as director of the National Institutes of Health and president and CEO of the American Red Cross."

Here's the beauty part from her column: "Pediatricians were concerned enough about mercury, which is known to cause neurological damage in developing infant and fetal brains, that they mobilized to have thimerosal removed from childhood vaccines by 2002. Their concern was not autism but the lunacy of injecting mercury into little kids through mandated vaccines that together exceeded mercury safety guidelines designed for adults."

So by definition, the former head of the NIH says people like Paul Offit -- who calls it a mistake to take mercury out -- and organizations like the CDC, the World Health Organization and their ilk who are keeping mercury in flu shots in the U.S. and in standard immunizations around the world ... the former head of the NIH says they're lunatic(s).

That's about as harsh as anything we've ever said, isn't it? -- Dan Olmsted"

Fighting the Autism-Vaccine War
US News and World Report
By Bernadine Healy M.D.
Posted April 10, 2008

One of the most vitriolic debates in medical history is just beginning to have its day in court—vaccine court, that is. Without laying blame, the independent Office of Special Masters of the Court of Federal Claims—with a 20-year record of handling vaccine matters—recently conceded that the brain damage and autistic behavior of Hannah Poling stemmed from her exposure as a toddler to five vaccinations on one day in July 2000. Two days later, she was overtaken by a high fever and an encephalopathy that deteriorated into autistic behavior. Even though autism has a strong genetic basis, and she has a coexisting rare mitochondrial disorder, I would not be too quick to dismiss Hannah as an anomaly.

At some level, the decision was a vindication for families who have been battling with the vaccine community, arguing that some poorly understood reaction to components of vaccines or their mercury-based preservative, thimerosal, could cause brain injury. Yes, vaccines are extraordinarily safe and bring huge public health benefit. (Remember the 1950s polio epidemics?) But vaccine experts tend to look at the population as a whole, not at individual patients. And population studies are not granular enough to detect individual metabolic, genetic, or immunological variation that might make some children under certain circumstances susceptible to neurological complications after vaccination.

A trigger? Families are not alone in searching for a trigger that might explain why autism and autism spectrum disorders have skyrocketed; now they reportedly affect about 1 in 150 kids. No doubt some of the increase is soft, due to broader diagnostic criteria, greater awareness, and—now that the notion of a detached "refrigerator" mom as a cause has blessedly fallen by the wayside—greater openness. But the rise of this disorder, which shows up before age 3, happens to coincide with the increased number and type of vaccine shots in the first few years of life. So as a trigger, vaccines carry a ring of both historical and biological plausibility.

Go back 40 or 50 years. The medical literature is replete with reports of neurological reactions to vaccines, such as mood changes, seizures, brain inflammation, and swelling. Several hundred cases of the paralytic illness Guillain-Barré after the swine flu vaccine were blamed on the government and gave Gerald Ford heartburn—but eventually led to the vaccine court.

Pediatricians were concerned enough about mercury, which is known to cause neurological damage in developing infant and fetal brains, that they mobilized to have thimerosal removed from childhood vaccines by 2002. Their concern was not autism but the lunacy of injecting mercury into little kids through mandated vaccines that together exceeded mercury safety guidelines designed for adults. But as in all things vaccine, this move too was contentious. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization remain unconvinced that thimerosal puts young children at risk.

There is no evidence that removal of thimerosal from vaccines has lowered autism rates. But autism numbers are not precise, so I would say that considerably more research is still needed on some provocative findings. After all, thimerosal crosses the placenta, and pregnant women are advised to get flu shots, which often contain it. Studies in mice suggest that genetic variation influences brain sensitivity to the toxic effects of mercury. And a primate study designed to mimic vaccination in infants reported in 2005 that thimerosal may clear from the blood in a matter of days but leaves inorganic mercury behind in the brain.

The debate roils on—even about research. The Institute of Medicine in its last report on vaccines and autism in 2004 said that more research on the vaccine question is counterproductive: Finding a susceptibility to this risk in some infants would call into question the universal vaccination strategy that is a bedrock of immunization programs and could lead to widespread rejection of vaccines. The IOM concluded that efforts to find a link between vaccines and autism "must be balanced against the broader benefit of the current vaccine program for all children."

Wow. Medicine has moved ahead only because doctors, researchers, and yes, families, have openly challenged even the most sacred medical dogma. At the risk of incurring the wrath of some of my dearest colleagues, I say thank goodness for the vaccine court.