Search results for 'deth'

Omnibus Autism Proceeding closing statements: thimerosal

7 Jun

While the vaccine hearing is not entirely concluded, apparently the portion where the public can listen in by phone, or download the audio, is over. There will be a little more testimony in July from some experts for the government who couldn’t make it in May, and the petitioners will probably have some of their experts back to try to rebut what those experts have to say.

For this blog entry I have transcribed the of the end of Mr. Powers’ closing argument for the parents’ lawyers (the Petitioners Steering Committee, aka PSC) and all of Mr. Matanoski’s closing argument made on May 30th, Day 15 (the relevant audio clip is found here.) My take on Mr. Powers closing remarks summing up the case the PSC had made for the mercury parents’ side was that he spent perhaps most of it whining about how mean the Dept. of Justice lawyers were (!) and explaining how rules of discovery are applied in civil court (which is apart from how discovery is handled in vaccine court.) I don’t remember him making any big points on how his experts were right, but maybe I missed them.

Where my transcription begins, Mr. Powers had just been explaining that they expected more science to come in that would be supporting their side and that they’d be sending it to the Special Masters and to the DoJ lawyers hot off the press, apparently. Considering the kind of stuff that the PSC has presented at the last minute previously(several times) I wouldn’t think that what they see as being in the pipeline would have any weight to it. What’s bizarre, in my opinion, is that the PSC has been saying that the science that supports their position was being finished up and would be “in” any minute now, for about the past 4 or 5 years.

Mr. Powers: … The petitioners will do everything that we can to bring that information to the Special Masters, to share it with the respondent, but ultimately with the idea that litigation strategy in this program is really not what should be driving the consideration of the science but ultimately,again the unique position of the respondent here reflecting the responsible of the mission to keep up to date consider the science, protect public health, consider the science and and apply it in a way that’s gunna provide the best information to the three of you in deciding the general issues and the specific issues in all of these cases. Thank you.

Special Master Campbell-Smith (?): Mr. Matanoski.

Mr. Matanoski: Thank you ma’am. In putting together my closing remarks, though the time that we have is brief, I would feel it would be tremendously an error on my part not to acknowledge the families that were involved here, Mead and King family. probably the most poignant moments in this trial was hearing the … testimony of Mylinda King and George Mead discussing William and Jordan. We thank them for their participation. Certainly our hearts go out to them and to all the families that have autistic children. We may be litigating one side of this issue but we certainly have tremendous respect and admiration for all of them.

You have a threshold matter before you that’s a scientific matter, however, that you must address.
And obviously a scientific question necessarily turns on scientific evidence and there are certain legal standards that must be applied in this courtroom and every courtroom to how you handle scientific evidence, indeed what can even be considered reliable scientific evidence. The supreme court has spoken: it’s evidence that must be tested, subject to publication and peer review. It’s evidence that has general acceptance in the scientific community.

On the PSC side of the ledger of the evidence you have not heard that yet, you’ve heard speculation– pure and simple.

What you’ve heard in terms of comments from Mr. Powers this morning suggests that that evidence as far as the petitioners are concerned, the PSC is concerned, is still not available. He talks about the dynamics of science, and ongoing studies, which in some ways may imply a lack of evidence, scientific evidence that is available to the PSC, at this point, to prevail.

Now the PSC’s case started with a curious approach they put on evidence, or put on testimony, that was designed to undermine evidence against their claim. That was the testimony of Dr. Greenland, but Dr. Greenland’s testimony and his whole postulate depended on a supposition. The supposition was that the petitioners would prove to you a case that their mechanism applied to clearly regressive cases only.

Now you’ve heard from Dr. Deth and his hypothesis, who said that it did not apply only to clearly regressive cases.

You heard this morning from Kinsbourne who said that he hasn’t even looked to see if his hypothesis would have any application to non-regressive cases. So he can’t even address whether his hypothesis is only limited to clearly regressive cases.

All of the abundant epidemiological evidence that has addressed the precise matter that is whether thimerosal containing vaccines can cause autism or are associated with autism is back on the table. It never was off. Dr. Greenland’s supposition is in error.

If you follow the mechanisms proposed by the PSC here to their logical conclusions they fail to show that thimerosal containing vaccines are the cause, They propose that inorganic mercury is the causative agent. Inorganic mercury is not specific to childhood vaccines, it’s in what we eat, it’s in the air we breathe. It may be, if we have poor dental health, it may be in the fillings in our mouth.
They fail to specify how much inorganic mercury is necessary to cause autism
their experts consistently refused to say, in fact when they did say they essentially said, any amount.
They’ve pushed the threshold down so that any exposure to inorganic mercury could be a potential cause for autism.
They’ve described causal mechanisms that are so general that they apply to virtually every disease and to every case of autism.

Oxidative stress is seen in conjunction with almost every disease. You even see it after trotting or jogging you even get it after you bang your thumb … hammering in a nail.

Neuroinflammation is seen in a variety of neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease for example.

And in the Vargas study every single autistic patient in that study had neuroinflammation: regressive, non-regressive, young and old alike. These are nonspecific causal mechanisms that are proposed to you. In the end you could just as easily conclude that a tuna sandwich or a dental filling could cause autism, as a childhood vaccine. And to flip it around you could just as easily consider that an 80 year old man who received a flu vaccine would get Alzheimers from it.

Mr. Powers commented about uh what I describe I guess is, or his description, of a smear campaign or heavy handed treatment of the petitioners experts. You take the witnesses as they come. Now perhaps there was an explanation and you’ve heard it for the events that transpired with his departure from the University of Toronto. But again you take the experts as they come. When Dr Deth and said that he is willing to come before you say that his hypothesis you should rely on it to make a finding of this import, even though he’s not willing to say to the scientific community that it’s acceptable without further testing, I think that bears consideration.

Dr. Kinsbourne when he sat in the witness chair, he put his credibility on the line. He’s coming before you saying, “Rely on me. Believe me, Trust me as an impartial scientist.” Because that’s how he’s coming to testify to you. You deserve to know whether he gets that kind of trust.
You know, he’s known to you, you’ve seen him here many times. If you go back and look at the cases that are currently active in front of the Special Masters’ office you’ll find that he’s retained or offered an expert opinion saying vaccines cause harm in over 30 cases. In the past year he’s authored one article in a medical journal. I think that tells you whether he’s coming to you as a witness who spends his time in the courtroom or as a, an impartial scientific expert witness who is adding some value to what your deliberations are from the point of view of reliable science.

And good science and reliable science comes from testing, publication, critical review, validation, verification of results. It’s performed by those who work in the fields, apply scientific method to their research.

The supreme court tells us that it can’t be untested hypotheses, as Dr. Deth has essentially described his causal mechanism.

And good science won’t be first revealed in the courtroom as Dr. Kinsbourne’s hypothesis is. But it’s going to see the light of day through critical discussions of the research among the scientists themselves.

It’s not reliable science, indeed it’s not any kind of science, to sit at your computer to take your last litigation driven report, run “find and replace”; find “measles vaccine” and replace it with “thimerosal containing vaccine.” A litigation driven contrivance such as that has no place in the courtroom. The supreme court has mandated that.

Now when the trial began, Mr. Powers described thimerosal containing vaccines as a relic of history.
Perhaps that was a reference to allowing some leeway, in what your evidentiary standards are, would be to (provide) some grading on the curve as to the science you would accept. In fact they’ve done to make this anything but a relic of history. The day that they said that they held a press conference to discuss the case. Their experts are here are telling you that trace amounts of mercury that are in vaccines, that the flu vaccine could be enough to cause autism.

Whether we like it or not, this issue before you is of great importance the issue before you, great attention has been drawn to it.
Just last week TIME magazine had vaccines and the safety of vaccines as a cover issue.
Many eyes are going to be turned to this court to see how you handle the scientific evidence before you and it’s not just the parents in front of you who have brought claims,
it’s for parents who haven’t brought claims who have autistic children and who are wondering if by getting them vaccinated they are somehow responsible for that condition,
it’s for scientists who work in relevant fields,
it’s from those who treat autism,
and it’s going to be viewed by parents who are wondering whether they should get their children vaccinated or not.

I’m going to be blunt at this very late hour and having brief remarks. Are you going to decide that question on the say-so of Dr. Deth and Dr. Kinsbourne, or you going to decide that question on the evidence given to you by witnesses like Dr. Catherine Lord, Dr. Eric Fombonne and professor Sir Michael Rutter.

Are you going to look at and consider the fact that every reputable … independent medical organization that has considered this issue the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the European Medicine Association, the World Health Organization, have all concluded that thimerosal containing vaccines do not cause autism.

Are you also going to consider that every court that has had to consider this claim before it, before you have considered it, in fact, has found that the claim is so lacking in merit that it should not even be presented to a jury.

Reliable scientific evidence at this point is all on one side of the ledger. Vaccines don’t cause autism. Thank you.

The audio clip:

Dean Jones PhD- oxidative stress and the Omnibus Autism hearing

28 May

Dr. Dean Jones testified on the topic of oxidative stress in the morning of Day 9 of the Thimerosal-only portion of the Omnibus Autism Proceedings hearing. Dr. Jones is a professor at Emory University. He received a Nobel fellowship to do research in molecular toxicology in Stockholm. He is currently a peer reviewer for the journals Toxicology, Nutrition, Science, and Nature Methods. He also has been the chair of a “study section” at the NIH, as such it was his job to oversee peer review process of grant applications.

He is the recipient of grants to do research. One of his major grants for looking at oxidative stress in cell nuclei. He is one of the asst. program directors for a $22 million award from the NIH for translational research. Dr. Jones oversees two labs at Emory, one is his own research lab focusing on redox chemistry. He lectures on nutritional biochemistry, pharmacology and metabolism and has written many articles on sulfur metabolism, and he estimates that he has written over 100 original research articles on oxidative stress.

Dr. Jones testified that sulfur is the 5th most common element in biological systems and sulfur is ubiquitous in living systems. All this sulfur beneficially affects how our bodies deal with heavy metals.
The following is more of my rough transcription of what Dr. Jones said as he was examined by Ms. Renzi. Words in parentheses are my summary of what was said, the rest is more of an attempt to get what was said word-for-word. Keep in mind, there is a lot more than this. I haven’t tried to transcribe all the testimony by Dr. Jones wherein he explains a lot about what Glutathione is and details the reasons for his conclusions about Dr. Deth’s hypothesis and the idea that thimerosal in the doses contained in the vaccines given to even the tiniest babies ever could do anything vaguely like harm:

Ms. Renzi: …. Glutathione does more than just detoxify heavy metals, is that correct?

Dr. Jones: Glutathione has a very important role in metabolism. It is the major thiol. (It’s a major) sulfur containing chemical…. maybe 1/3 of the total sulfur (in the body is found in glutathione) the most abundant thiol.

Ms. Renzi: What is the role of glutathione in the body?

Dr. Jones: … The one that has probably received the most attention in the past 50 years is the function of glutathione as an anti-carcinogen. Glutathione is used to counter reactive chemicals that would otherwise cause mutations in the DNA and cause cancer. A little over 50 years ago it was recognized that many chemicals we are exposed to are activated in the body to reactive chemicals, the most central way that the body gets rid of these is by reacting these with glutathione. Glutathione is the most anticarcinogenic chemical we have in our body.

It is also an antioxidant….Hydrogen peroxide is produced in the body all the time, about a pound a day of oxygen consume, about 1% of that is converted to hydrogen peroxide– a large portion of that is eliminated by glutathione.

…there is a coenzymatic function of glutathione. One of the main ways we get rid of formaldehyde is through a catalytic action, involves using glutathione as a catalyst. The glutathione is not used up (in doing that).

Ms. Renzi: Deth’s hypothesis is thimerosal containing vaccines disrupt sulfur metabolism and causes autism. …

And Based upon your knowledge and research in the area of sulfur metabolism and glutathione do you have an opinion as to whether thimerosal at the doses administered in thimerosal containing vaccines can significantly affect sulfur metabolism.

[This is about the 22 minute mark.]

Jones: What the data show is that the dose of thimerosal (under discussion) will not affect in a significant way, sulfur metabolism.

Renzi: Why is that?

Dr. Jones: (He gives the amount of sulfur in a human body. He gives estimated total body glutathione.) 1 millimolar (is) 1000 micromolar. (He gives the amount of sulfur in sulfur containing foods a typical baby would eat: 500 micromoles per kg of body weight.) … We have a huge total thiol content in the body.

Ms. Renzi: (In your scenario that compares sulfur exposure to mercury exposure from vaccines,) how did you calculate the thimerosal dose?

I took the cumulative dose (that) was 180 mcg. I rounded it up (apparently to 200 mcg). (I calculated it as if) that were given all at once to a 1kg child, so that would be a two pound child. This is a very conservative way to look at this, the exposure would probably be six-fold lower than this. If you calculated it this way that would be equivalent to one micromole per kg of body weight. The more realistic would be 0.1 micromole per kg. The cumulative dose of thimerosal is considerably less than that daily intake of sulfur amino acids would be… 2000 fold lower than the total body thiol.

Renzi: Do food items also contain reactive materials that our body use glutathione to deactivate.

Johnson: … if we look at the amount of reactive materials in a 8 oz glass of 2% cows milk that number is 21,700 nanomoles. If you assume that a child would consume 4 oz in a serving would be the equivalent of 10 micromoles. One 4 oz serving would contain more than 10 times as much of the reactive materials (as is in the estimated 200 mcg of mercury from thimerosal.)

Renzi: The amount of reactive materials (in those common foods are) above that cumulative dose in a thimerosal normally administered over a 6 month period.

(1 hour 36 minutes)

Dr. Jones: (summing up) … at 4 critical sites in this scheme the pieces don’t fit together that that’s a plausible hypothesis and plausible mechanism that changes in sulfur amino acid is a cause of autism

Ms. Renzi: So, the data that Dr. Deth presented actually in formulating his hypothesis doesn’t support his hypothesis is that correct?

Yes. … Slide 28 is Dr. Deth’s slide 41… What I think that the data show, uh, you know, to me fairly clearly in, you know, that that there really is not appropriate evidence, this is just not, the data, saying that the dose of thimerosal is enough to alter the sulfur metabolism, this is not, not established by the data. And similarly if you had a perturbation in the sulfur even if a very minor effect happened it really wouldn’t be of a magnitude that one could consider that that is the cause of oxidative stress. I think you have to conclude that this is not established, either, the second point. And finally then if you look at the subsequent aspects of that the variations, the oxidative stress, there’s a normal variation in oxidative stress and that the magnitude of effects are really not appropriate, and in fact the mechanisms that he’s drawn can not account for changes in the methionine synthase activity and the in vitro data he’s provided without in vivo data supporting it, really you have to conclude that this step in the pathway is also not established. That is the oxidative stress to the methionine synthase.

…And so from that summary, from my standpoint there really is no plausibility to this hypothesis at all. It’s what I would consider a, a scaffold without a building. there’s a lot of components to it but it really doesn’t have the strength, solidity of being solid science, of being reasonable or plausible. …

So, this is my final slide, slide 29 … I think in terms of the overall, you know, my overall consideration of this:

I think the point one is the cumulative dose of thimerosal is too low to cause the magnitude of effects on glutathione metabolism that would be required to conclude that there’s any likelihood of effect there. It’s not plausible.

Point two, the natural variations are greater than one would expect from the low dose of thimerosal that are present in thimerosal containing vaccines.

The third point, … if you did have an effect, you’d have to conclude that the low non-toxic dose would probably be protective, because that would be activating protective mechanisms that ubiquitously occur.

Fourth, the in vitro studies show that thimerosal disruption of metabolism is probably occurring under non-specific conditions–ones that were you simply have the cellular conditions set up so that you are going to be disrupting lots of things–that you are not going to be giving any specificity. That’s simply because they are at irrelevant concentrations, irrelevant amounts.

I have to conclude that the data really don’t support this hypothesis that there is an effect on the glutathione system that’s causing oxidative stress and that that’s the cause of autism.

Ms. Renzi: Thank you.

Special Master Vowell (addressing PSC lawyer, Mike Williams): Are you prepared to begin cross examination or would this be a good time for a break?

Mr. Williams: I would very much enjoy a break, if that would be alright with you.

One can only imagine how much Mr. Williams needed that break.

I’m running out of adjectives to describe how thoroughly the dead parrot hypothesis has been demolished by the Department of Justice’s experts up to this point. I would not like to be Dr. Deth or even Dr. Wally. There work in cell cultures was described as basically not worthy of publication and it puzzles experts on how it got past peer review. Even the Petitioner’s Steering Committee’s own experts are doing serious damage to their own hypotheses from my observation, via sloppy testimony, bad evidence, citing what amount to speculative essays by absolute non-scientists “published” in non-peer reviewed magazines, experts with unusual ties to unusual funding sources, shaky sources for “data” in testimony that most would consider plagiarized because the real source was not cited, self plagiarism from previous reports, inflated–bordering on fabricated–credentials, extreme lack of expertise in the area where they are testifying, lack of preparation, and a lack of agreement and coherence between the petitioners own experts’ stories. Oh, and they keep bringing up new stuff, new ideas, new papers at the very last minute, which is just not done.

And … I have to ask, if the PSC lawyers were confident in what they were presenting, would they really need to be insulting to the experts for the DoJ? Seriously. Dr. Jones started to get impatient with the way Mr. Williams was badgering him on the cross examination and acting as if he, Jones, should already know what was in a paper that Mr. Williams just handed to him a minute previously, one of those last minute introductions of “evidence” that is totally out of bounds, normally. What I keep hearing on and off from the PSC lawyers, is a tone of voice that implies, “You’re just an idiot, aren’t you? You don’t know this???” Maybe that’s how lawyers are supposed to talk, but I didn’t hear it coming from the DoJ lawyers on cross examination of the PSC experts. The Special Masters have been very generous. I hope the Special Masters can see what a flimsy structure the arguments are that the PSC has constructed.It's just sleeping!

I hope parents who buy into the whole vaccine/heavy metal causation hypothesis and its accompanying “biomed” insanity are listening to these hearings because they will see how they’ve been led around by the nose by “experts” using big words and “healers” making big promises. I also hope that people don’t ever avoid vaccinating their children just out of fear of autism or vague fears of “toxicity.” The stuff to fear is not the vaccines. The stuff to fear is the sometimes deadly germs that vaccines can help protect their children from.

Dr. Brent – Toxicologist at the Autism Omnibus hearing

25 May

Listening to Mr. Williams (lawyer for the parents) cross examine Dr. Brent the toxicologist (from May 19, Day 6) was difficult most because after 45 minutes of discussion of the toxicokinetics of ethyl-, vs. methyl, vs. inorganic-mercury all I could hear was “Blah, blah, don’t you agree that the Charleston monkey adult brain study showedgreaterinflammationoftheinorganic glutamaturgicneuron silvergrainsBurbacherinfant paper? Blah blah and further, isn’t it true thattheVahtergroup onlygave80milligramsperkilogramsperdayofmercuricchloride because the defensereferencemasterlist 436page8 indicatesthatSeychellesIslanders spoke at the IOM?”

Nevertheless, I forced myself to listen to portions of it again and again until I thought I understood what they were talking about exactly. There were several times, maybe 8 or 10 even where it seemed obvious to me that Dr. Brent had totally demolished the point that Mr. Williams was attempting to make and Mr. Williams continued on as if it was of no consequence. I kept getting this picture of King Arthur and the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail after King Arthur has sliced off the Black Knight’s arm:

Now stand aside, worthy adversary.
‘Tis but a scratch.
A scratch? Your arm’s off!
No, it isn’t.
Well, what’s that, then?
I’ve had worse.


The following is more of my rough transcribing of the audio. I have no idea what that word is that sounds like “AT-trib-ated.” If you know I’d be happy to correct my spelling of it. I believe this first paper he’s referring to is one of the Charleston or Vahter adult monkey studies where they gave very large doses of methyl mercury to the monkeys every day, orally. Click here to hear this segment of the cross examination of Dr. Brent.


Mr. Williams: It’s says: “the microglia population is a responsive cell type. Once damage has been repaired following activation after injury microglia are known to return to a quiescent state. However, the number of attribated (sp?) microglia remained elevated … in the monkeys of the clearance group which were kept unexposed for 6 months following 12 months of methyl mercury exposure . This group had very low concentrations of methyl mercury, but retained elevated concentrations inorganic mercury at levels comparable to the 12 month exposure group and this suggests that inorganic mercury may be the proximate species of mercury responsible for microglial activation…” a situation similar to that proposed for the cortex study we already looked at. Now, do you agree that normally microglia have a protective role, they come in and clean up whatever’s there and then they return to their quiescent state?

Dr. Brent: To the extent that I understand microglia… which is limited, I would say, yes.

Williams: And if they stay activated then they can become toxic to neurons and astrocytes.

Dr. Brent: Once again, my, my understanding of microglia is more limited than other people who will be testifying later… my understanding is that microglial activations is not necessarily a bad thing and that … the effects here are not necessarily indicative of any neuropathology.

Once again, you know, we are talking about inorganic mercury effects at the concentrations they give here, and if the inorganic mercury is causing adverse effects at the concentrations, then it’s the seafood and the chicken that people are eating and not the vaccines because that’s where the far greater exposure comes from. And that doesn’t make any sense, because everyone is eating seafood and chicken, including children who are getting mercury via breast milk, and we don’t think of breast milk as a neurotoxin!

Williams: If we go down the column on the same page to about 4 sentences above… yeah about where you have it highlighted…
It says: “Further loss of astrocytes would be expected to have deleterious effects on the neuron population, for example through a excitotoxic mechanism. You were here when Dr Kinsbourne testified that that was his … understanding of the mechanism that could likely be at work here that you would have astrocytes no longer able to take up glutamate, so yyou’d have excess of glutamate and have neurons get over excited. Right?

Dr. Brent: Once again your getting a little out of the mercury area, so my answer here is going to be quite limited, what I took away from Dr. Kinsbourne’s testimony was that he was hypothesizing it was excitotoxic mechanism, related to astrocyte effects. But here for example it says, “further loss of astrocytes,” in this study there wasn’t even that much loss of astroycytes! And certainly, uhm, well we talked about the exposure scenario, so I won’t bring that up again …

Williams: And although, you want to talk about the methyl mercury dose here, you recall that the authors of the infant monkey study made a point of saying that the levels of inorganic mercury in these adult monkeys was only 5 times higher on average than the levels they found in those infant monkey brains, right?

Dr. Brent: That’s right, and that’s very good evidence therefore, that the inorganic mercury is not acting as a neurotoxin, or else we are being poisoned every day, and we are having autism being formed every day, from breastmilk, from seafood, from chicken.

Williams: (Clears throat.)


I don’t know if it’s immediately obvious to those who haven’t followed the discussion closely, but basically, Mr. Williams had pointed out that inorganic mercury is the “proximate” cause of damage to brain cells. Which is to say that, it doesn’t matter if the original source of the mercury was methyl-, ethyl- or inorganic mercury, because the mercury doesn’t hang around in the brain as either methyl- or ethyl-mercury. Those forms get changed into inorganic mercury, and it’s the inorganic mercury that hangs around. Inorganic mercury (referred to sometimes in the hearing as “Hg-plus-plus,” Hg++) is the same stuff whether or not it started out as methyl-, ethyl-, thimerosol, breast milk, or chicken. And the exposure to breast milk and chicken for the infant and toddler set is much higher than their exposure to thimerosal from vaccines, now or ever. Dr. Brent had said earlier in the cross examination that over the course of 6 months and infant gets “about 250 micrograms of methyl mercury.”

macaque monkey

Besides that the PSC keeps bringing up these studies where macaques were given significantly higher doses, even massively higher doses, of mercury, either thimerosal or methyl-mercury, than babies ever got. The monkeys in the Vahter study were given 50 mcg per kilogram per day of methyl mercury, which Dr. Brent explained is the equivalent in a 70 kg person getting 3,500 mcg a day of methyl mercury. The average diet for that 70 kg person would expose him or her to 11,000 mcg a year. A year! So essentially, the monkeys got a level of mercury in 3 days what they’d get in a year if they had been eating a typical American diet. But some of the monkeys were fed like this for a year. That’s the “12 month exposure group” referred in what I transcribed (above).

And even though they had had that large continual dose of mercury for a year and many of their brain cells were pretty much impregnated with mercury, the monkeys were normal behaviorally. Even if you wouldn’t expect them to become autistic because they were exposed as adults, surely they’d show some outward sign of brain damage if that much mercury were extremely dangerous to brain function.

It was also interesting to me that Burbacher had used 3 or 4 times the amount of thimerosal to dose his infant monkeys as humans got. Had Burbacher used the equivalent amount of thimerosal in the human vaccine schedule the outcome would likely have been that the levels of mercury in the monkey’s brains would have been so low that it wouldn’t have been detectable. (Clears throat.)

There was also some fun discussion about how there’s no increased autism in the Faroe and Seychelle’s islands in spite of the fact that infants have high levels of mercury in their brains (from maternal diet). Mr. Williams stated that “fish is very good for brains” as if that was a point for his side.

Dr. Brent was the first of the respondents expert witnesses to testify in this portion of the Omnibus hearing. He also had testified in the Cedillo hearing. Some of the points about Kinsbourne’s hypothesis regarding astroglial activation, glutamate excess, and cell death were dismantled by Dr. Johnson, and by other experts who testified in the past weak. Dr. Deth’s hypothesis about autism being the result of oxidative stress was pretty much smithereened by two or three of the petitioners experts. I’m still catching up with listening to all of their testimony, but of extensive portions I’ve listened to so far, well, I think it’s looking really bad for dead parrot hypothesis.

Dr. Johnson testifies in the Autism Omnibus Hearing

24 May

Dr. Johnson’s testimony was fabulous and I think it’s safe to say that it wreaks more devastation on the petitioners'(the parents) case. As of this moment, I can’t give you a lot of detail about Dr. Johnson’s qualifications, unfortunately. For some reason a portion of the audio recording (MP3) that would have included Dr. Johnson’s statement of his qualifications is missing.

One thing I think is important to point out here is that the respondents experts’ (written) reports, and even the list of the respondents’ experts has not been posted to the Autism Omnibus docket. The parents’ lawyers (the Petitioners Steering Committee, or PSC) do have their experts list posted to the docket. Some time ago (I think it was more than a year ago) the Department of Justice attorneys asked the Special Master if the Federal Court would refrain from posting the lists of the respondent’s experts for fear that their experts would be subjected to harassment. That request doesn’t seem to be on the docket now, but it used to be. It’s likely that after the experts were listed the first time the experts for the government were harassed. This would be in keeping with the way different experts, and even parents such as myself and Kevin Leitch and others, have been harassed by “mercury parents” or their friends. You can see from the Autism Omnibus Proceedings Docket Here: that the there are no more postings of lists of respondents’ experts after mid 2006. There’s an entry from March of 2007 that is called, “Respondent’s Notice of Expert Witnesses,” but there’s no document now linked to that entry.

The point I’m trying to make about the missing expert list is: I can’t pull up the list of expert witnesses for the respondents (the US government, essentially) for this hearing because it’s not available. So I can’t find out easily who Dr. Johnson is, though he is a professor at university, and has a lab, and has published on neurophyisology and neurodegenerative diseases, and he uses tissue slides and tissue cultures. Worse, “Johnson” is a very common name so if you go looking for experts named Johnson who publish in neurodegenerative diseases, you’ll find 3 or 4 of them in pubmed. The DoJ lawyer here is one of Mr. Matanoski’s team of attorneys. As far as I can tell the junior attorneys on the team are Bo (Beau?) Johnson, Ms. Ricciardella, Ms. Renzi and Ms. Espinoza (Espinosa?).

I don’t know which lawyer is examining Dr. Johnson. From her voice, I’m guessing (again) that it’s Ms. Renzi. Again this is my transcribing of what was said, some of it is word for word, some of it is a close paraphrase of what was said you can find the following somewhere around 8 minutes 43 seconds on the second MP3 file from Day 7 (May 20). Here is some of the very interesting testimony from Dr. Johnson:

Ms. Renzi: Dr. Deth cited a paper by Mady Hornig in support of his arguments. You mentioned that the mouse strain Dr. Hornig used was selected because it had a stronger immune response, but took issue with Dr. Deth’s explanation of the rationale behind the use of the strain. … Deth said hers was a mouse strain harboring genetic deficits in redox related enzymes… What strain of mouse was used?

Dr. Johnson: It was an SJL-J mouse. (Dr. Deth) was inferring that there was a redox enzyme differential, or some kind of differential (in this strain) and that’s absolutely not true. The mice have a this increased immune response and that’s why they were selected. … There’s absolutely no data supporting the fact that there is a redox enzyme differential. Now I can understand the reason that it’s in there because it supports his hypothesis… but it’s not an accurate representation of these mice.

Renzi: Do you have confidence in Dr. Hornig’s reported results?

Johnson: Uh, no.

Renzi: Part of that has to do with the hippocampal sections, correct?

Johnson: The quality of the images,… I’ll point this out, (the sections from the Hornig paper) .. What you can see is when you look at these images–to me these images are absolutely awful, now the staining here is hematoxylin and eosin, and it’s supposed to stain for architecture and cell integrity and a variety of other things. The pictures are diffuse, there’s no clear neuronal fields. Right here there is weak staining. … If you look here, the cells that are dark right there, those are the neuronal fields. The quality is just extremely low. … Quality of the sections themselves are low. … Let’s put it this way, I’ve seen this in my lab before. I’ve seen people come to me with sections stained like this. I’ll say: Something’s wrong. OK? The tissue wasn’t prepared right. There’s something definately wrong here. Because these do not maintain the nice cellular architecture that you should see if the experiment is done right and the tissue is harvested correctly.

Renzi: Problems with these slides led you to doubt the findings of the Hornig paper? Has a recent paper contradicted Hornig’s findings? …

Johnson: The… comparable fields in the Berman paper. To me they are absolutely beautiful. … It looks very, very, very good.

Renzi: … What dose of thimerosal was used in the Berman paper?

Johnson: …They also used a does that was 10 times higher…

Renzi: Did both studies (stain with antibodies)?

Johnson: There is a distinct difference between Berman and Hornig studies’ slides… If you look at the architecture of the tissue in the Berman study…. (there is) nice staining in the hippocampus….

Special Master:… (interrupt for clarification)

Johnson: … Berman sections are the two sections on the left side… What you can see is there’s very nice staining in the field, the neuronal field are not staining intensely (which is what they are expected to show)

Now if you look at the upper 4 panels on the right side these are from the similar panels from the Hornig study. The first thing that I want to point out is that if you look at the tissue, it’s full of holes… Look at this enhanced image right here, the bottom two panels C and D from the Hornig. You can see that the tissue almost looks like it’s disintegrating, It’s breaking down. There’s holes all over in the tissue.

I know from experience when you see tissue like this the amount of nonspecific staining by antibodies could be intense.

Basically, if someone came to me with this kind of staining in my laboratory I would say to go back and do the whole experiment again,… I would not want… for one these are unpublishable to me, and two the potential for artifactual data to be generated from this kind of (poor quality tissue) is extremely high. … This is very important. You know, you can do whatever you want after you’ve got the tissue, but it’s the process of getting the tissue so that the quality is extremely good. You need to start with high quality tissue.

… The Berman tissue was absolutely perfect. … The sections are beautiful.

One thing I took away from Dr. Johnson’s testimony is that there’s no way that the Hornig paper should

have made it past a competent peer review and into a “peer reviewed” publication. The Hornig paper has a few other problems that have been discussed before, but these problems never been reported in into a letter to the journal that published that paper, Molecular Psychology, as they should have. (Click here to download a copy of that paper from the SAFE MINDS website.)

Hornig wrote that paper with her main squeeze, Ian Lipkin, and with David Chian. This research was funded by the UC Davis MIND Institute, SAFE MINDS and by part of an NIH grant of Ian Lipkin’s. Surely someone knew how bad those tissue slides were even before it was submitted to the journal. Surely someone at the journal should have had a person with some kind of expertise review the article. Surely in 2004 some person with expertise would have noticed the problems with the degraded and uninterpretable tissue slides in the Hornig paper. I didn’t notice any problems with the slides when I read the paper because I don’t know what stained tissue of mouse hippocampus is supposed to look like and neither would most of the mercury parents who have tried to use this paper to show that their own child was made autistic by vaccines containing thimerosal.

The MIND Institute scientists must have seen the problems with Mady Hornig’s study, but they invited her to come speak about her thimerosal-causes-susceptible-mice-to-become-mindlessly-violent-killers hypothesis at the conference I call the “MIND’s mini-DAN!”. Video of her speaking at that conference is still available on the MIND’s website here:

And you can see video of John Green speaking there, too. He was described in the most glowing terms by Dr. Robert Hendren. Maybe Dr. Hendren didn’t know about the “earthworm eggs” and “fecal implantation enemas” that Dr. Green had prescribed to some of his patients. After Green spoke, Dr. Hendren knew about the problems with Green’s citing of a provoked urine toxic heavy metals lab result from Doctor’s Data Inc that was in Dr. Green’s slides, because I told Dr. Hendren about the problem with that lab report. As far as I could tell, Dr. Hendren wasn’t particularly worried about that. The video of Dr. Green “explaining” what that lab test meant to him is still on the MIND’s website. I have a problem with that, since parents can watch those videos and make poor treatment decisions for their children based on them. On the other hand, those videos seem to stand as a testimony to something less than scientific that seems to be going on at the MIND Institute. To UC Davis’ credit however, the Berman (2008) study that totally contradicts the Hornig (2004) study was also conducted at UCD.

Dr. Johnson has plenty of interesting things to say about Dr. Richard Deth and his neuroblastoma cell line experiments. Apparently, Dr. Deth will be back to testify again in the autism omnibus. Perhaps he will explain why he seemed to cut his experiments short (time-wise) and why he called neuroblastoma cells “neronal cells” when they should not be called neuronal cells, and why he didn’t show critically important “dose response curves”.credit: taminsea

I may have to devote a separate post to the issue of Deth taking data from (but not citing) a 1958 paper (pdf) that reported the level of cystathionine in duck brains (besides duck, also, human, cat, rat, guinea pig, horseshoe crab, chicken, cow and monkey).

Autism Omnibus and shrinking hypotheses

13 May

The number of people who have made confident assertions about thiomersal causing autism over the last four years or so is astounding.

It’s now 2005…..[W]e should see fewer cases entering the system this year than we did last year.

– David Kirby

if the total number of 3-5 year olds in the California DDS system has not declined by 2007, that would deal a severe blow to the autism-thimerosal hypothesis… cases among 3-5 year olds, not changes in the rate of increase is the right measure.

– David Kirby

“Late 2006 should be the first time that rates go down” said Handley. “If they don’t, our. hypothesis will need to be reexamined.”

– JB Handley

…I would like to make a virtual wager that within the next 18-24 months scientific evidence will make the thimerosal-autism link a near certainty.

Richard Deth, March 22, 2006.

All these statements have one thing in common, they promote the idea that mercury (thiomersal in particular) causes autism in either all, or the vast majority of cases.

However, listening to the Autism Omnibus yesterday provided a very interesting change from this perspective:

In some kids, there’s enough of it that it sets off this chronic neuroinflammatory pattern that can lead to regressive autism,” said attorney Mike Williams.


Note the new language: ‘some kids’….’regressive autism’…..’can lead’.

It seems the days of ‘all autism is mercury poisoning’ are long gone.

Petitioners presented a very interesting expert witness yesterday – a Dr Sander Greenland from UCLA who is a Professor of Epidemiology.

Dr Greenland argued some strange facts for the PSC but completely in line with this new tack that I can’t even remember being argued in the Cedillo hearing (thiomersal may cause regressive autism in some kids).

Greenland essentially argued that all the current epidemiology regarding autism and thiomersal was not good enough to detect thiomersal causation in regressive autism – this is from his submitted report:

A simple example may clarify this point. If a vaccine is not associated with any type of disorder in the category, we should expect to see the same risk when comparing vaccinated to the unvaccinated. Suppose, however, that in reality the vaccine is associated with a two-fold increase in the risk of a type of disorder in the category, but not associated with any other type. Suppose also that, without the vaccine, the associated type represents only one-tenth (10%) of the disease category, and that the total number of cases in the category would be 100. Then, without the vaccine, the number of cases with the associated type would be 100/10 = 10. With the vaccine, however, the number of cases with the associated type would double, to 20, an excess of 10 cases over the original 10 with the associated type. This excess produced by the vaccine would result in a total of 100+10 = 110 cases over the full category, which is only a 10% increase in the risk of any type in the category. Thus, the risk ratio for getting any type in the category would be only 110/100 = 1.1. Such a small risk ratio cannot be reliably distinguished from 1 by ordinary epidemiologic studies.

In other words, the amount of autism caused by vaccines is in fact too small to be detected by epidemiology. If, of course, it is associated with it at all – a point made later by Dr Greenland:

The brief overview given above supports the idea that the association of MCV (mercury containing vaccine) with autism is small or nonexistent.

But really his point is that if thiomersal does cause autism (and whilst he professes to have ‘no opinion’ on the matter it may be telling that he refers to the idea as a hypothesis throughout his report, not a theory) it causes it in very, very small numbers indeed.

Dr Greenland passed no opinion the validity of the hypothesis itself. Rather, he was there to study epidemiology. We have to respect his opinion even if we disagree with it.

The more telling aspect for me was this sudden conversion from ‘vaccines cause autism’ to this suddenly tiny percentage – so small to be undetectable by epidemiology up to this point. That’s quite a step back. What will become of the Omnibus cases that are not considered’ regressive’? Or the ones (like Michelle Cedillo) who were claimed to be regressive but were, upon viewing the video evidence, clearly not. Are the PSC really throwing cases away?

Autism Omnibus and David Kirby

14 Jun

And so, as we approach the end of week one of the vaccine trial, its been truly fascinating to read (albeit a day behind my US counterparts) the ongoing proceedings.

One of the things that fascinated me was the culling of the ‘expert witness’ list. Before Monday – the start of the trial – the expert list comprised:

Jim Adams PhD
Harland Austin D. Sc.
David S Baskin MD
Jeffrey Bradstreet M.D.
Richard Carlton Deth PhD
Mark Geier MD
M. Eric Gershwin MD
Phillippe Grandjean, Ph.D.
Sander Greenland, Dr. PH
Boyd E. Hayley, Ph D
Robert Hirsch PhD
Arthur Krigsman MD
Cathy A Lally, Master P.H.
Mary Megson, MD
Elizabeth Mumper MD
Andrew J. Wakefield, MB, BS, FRCS, FRCPath

And on Monday, the people left from this list were:

Arthur Krigsman MD.

Amazing. I can only surmise that the others were considered as liabilities. Certainly when one considers the stupidity of Haley, Adams, Geier and Wakefield then this looks like a good move. They would’ve been crucified on cross examination. It comes to something when only one person from the original list is considered a safe bet and then he is also crucified on cross examination.

Q. Doctor, your C.V. states that you’re a clinical assistant professor at New York University.
Is that correct?

A. Correct.

Q. Are you currently on staff there?

A. Correct.

Q. When was the last time you taught a class at NYU?

A. I haven’t taught there.

Q. You’ve never taught a class at NYU?

A. I’m on staff there.

Q. Are you salaried?

A. From NYU?

Q. Yes.

A. No.

Q. Have you ever been salaried at NYU?

A. No

I listened closely to the Petitioners opening statement and was bewildered. I’ll quote the ACHAMP blog:

Mr. Powers argued that over the last five years, since the Omnibus Autism Proceeding commenced, the Respondent in the Proceeding, with the Department of Justice acting as its counsel, had been standing “shoulder to shoulder” with industry and that it had placed many obstacles in Petitioners’ way. He noted obstacles of a short statute of limitations; very limited rights of discovery to gain necessary background information to build a case, particularly discovery from the Vaccine Safety Datalink; and selective use of materials from MMR litigation in the United Kingdom that was inaccessible to Petitioners; among other uncooperative tactics.

Not only are most of these things not _quite_ as painted, it seemed to me that Powers was presenting a long litany of excuses to be presented when the case fails. He’s simply fuelling the conspiracy theorist fire.

Also stoking the flames of that fire is one David Kirby. He made a recent HuffPo blog entry that berated critics for inflating the possibilities of what might happen if the parents win:

Critics of the autism claims also contend that a victory in court by any of the families would drive panicked parents away from immunizing their children at all, resulting in new epidemics of infectious disease and lots of sick and dying youngsters…..Nobody wants to see measles, or mumps, or polio sweep the country. But I don’t think that will happen.

Yeah? Its already happening you idiot.

In the course of 10 days, officials confirmed four pertussis cases, including the hospitalization of one child to treat respiratory symptoms. All of the cases afflicted children under 5 years old, and one in an infant just a couple of days old, according to Ravalli County Public Health Nurse Judy Griffin…..There have been more than 450 cases of pertussis in Montana so far this year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The infection rate is much higher than average years, when about 30 cases are reported….”Parents should check immunization records and make sure they’re up to date,” Nurse Judy Griffin said.

Ravalli Republic.

(Columbia) The state health department said yesterday that an infant has died from whooping cough. It is the first death reported in South Carolina from the disease in nearly three years….The health agency said it’s important children receive pertussis vaccinations on schedule.

WLTX News.

A whooping cough epidemic has hit Deschutes County. Health officials say that in the past six weeks, 18 cases of pertussis have been identified in the county. In all of 2004, there were only two cases of pertussis in Deschutes County.


An increase in cases of the highly contagious whooping cough is prompting state health officials to urge stricter compliance with childhood immunization schedules….Cases have increased annually from 22 statewide in 1996 to 120 last year…Oklahoma’s childhood immunization levels continue to lag behind those nationally, officials said.

RedNova News

Kids are dying again. And in some areas of the US the disease causing those deaths is at epidemic (real epidemic as oppose to autism epidemic) proportions. And thats just one disease that vaccination removed the sting from for many years. In my country (UK) we’ve recently had a Mumps epidemic due to Andrew Wakefield’s unfounded scaremongering regarding the MMR vaccine. And worse:

Take-up rates of the jab dropped throughout the UK, down to less than 70% in some areas, after a small-scale study published in The Lancet in 1998 by Dr Andrew Wakefield suggested a link to autism.


In 2004, mumps cases in the England and Wales rose from 4,204 in 2003 to 16,436 in 2004, nearly a four-fold increase.

And in the first month of 2005, there were nearly 5,000 cases. Most were among young adults born before 1988 and who would, therefore, not have been offered MMR as a child. In the second paper, Dr Ravindra Gupta, from London’s Guy’s and St Thomas’, working with colleagues from King’s College London, found cases have also occurring in very young children who would have been eligible for the MMR – measles, mumps and rubella – vaccine…..Dr Gupta (…) said uptake of MMR among two-year-olds in the UK fell from around 92% in early 1995 to around 80% in 2003/4.


In October 2004, experts predicted that due to falling vaccination uptake, the UK would start to suffer from ‘small outbreaks’:

The medical newspaper Pulse has warned that there could be a measles epidemic this winter on a scale last seen in the 1960s. It said that lowering levels of immunity meant as many as 12% of children and 20% of adults could be hospitalised if infected by measles.


And now, this year, 18 months after this warning, we have the UK’s first measles induced fatality in 14 years.

The 13-year-old who died last month lived in a travellers’ community. It is thought that he had a weakened immune system; he was being treated for a lung condition. The boy died of an infection of the central nervous system caused by a reaction to the measles virus. The Health Protection Agency described his death as shocking.


The Times also says that of the 72 reported measles cases last month, 9 required hospitalisation – this tallies almost exactly with the 2004 prediction of a hospitalisation rate of 12%.

Kirby has his own ‘dire warnings’ about what might happen if the parents lose:

And then there is the Middle East. Osama, for one, has a very extended family. We are exporting thimerosal containing vaccines to many Muslim nations. Some vaccines contain not only mercury, but products derived from pigs. I don’t need to tell you where I am going with this train of thought. You already know.

Actually, I do. You’re trying to instil fear of Muslims into people to support your meaningless rhetoric you nasty little racist.

David Kirby’s Causation Trail

22 Feb

In a truly fascinating exchange on the Evidence of Harm Yahoo Group, David Kirby has revealed:

…the studies which, when taken together, suggest a plausible biological mechanism for mercury exposure as a contributing factor to regressive autism

The exchange came about as a ‘renegade’ poster to that group started laying down a smidgen of fact regarding the state of the science that props up the thiomersal hypothesis. S/he is not a popular bunny on that group.

The exchange led group big cheese Lenny Schafer to state:

It seems that junk science is in the eye of the beholder. It will probably take an impartial jury in a court of law to substantially settle if there is enough evidence of harm to implicate thimerosal and or vaccines in autism.

Seems like Lenny hasn’t been keeping up with the news in that regard.

Anyway, back to David Kirby. Hot on the heels of his amusing further goalpost shifting (somehow the non-decrease in autism numbers which, in 2005 and 2006 would be a grave blow to the thiomersal hypothesis are now suddenly nothing to trouble this teflon coated hypothesis) comes this – David Kirby’s statement on the existing studies which support mercury exposure (what? Not ‘MERCURY _IN VACCINES_ AND THE AUTISM EPIDEMIC: A MEDICAL CONTROVERSY’ David? Just any old mercury now is it? Bless you for exposing the courage of your convictions.)

So which studies float David’s boat? This is his list:

Richard Deth, Northeastern U;
Martha Herbert, Harvard U;
Jill James, Univ of Arkansas;
Thomas Burbacher, Univ of Washington;
Diana Vargas, Johns Hopkins;
Isaac Pessah, UC Davis;
Mady Hornig, Columbia U;
Mark Noble, Univ of Rochester.

Eight people, eight studies. Thise is the ‘science’ that David thinks suggest a plausible mechanism for mercury being a contributing factor for regressive autism.

As an amusing aside, don’t you love (and appreciate!) how careful David is becoming with his choice of words these days? No more of this ‘thiomersal causes autism’ stuff for him! Now its’mercury’ (not ‘MERCURY _IN VACCINES_ AND THE AUTISM EPIDEMIC: A MEDICAL CONTROVERSY’) and instead of ‘causing’ we have ‘contributing factor’ and instead of autism we now have ‘regressive autism’. best of all we have ‘suggest’ instead of MERCURY IN VACCINES AND THE AUTISM EPIDEMIC. Bless him, all the blog reading he’s been doing from the skeptical folks is finally paying off.

So, lets turn our attention to these studies of David’s. First of all we should note that the Mark Noble cite is a red herring (you lose skeptic points for that David) as, if I’m not mistaken, this study is a) a pilot study and b) not as yet underway. Certainly none of the other ten studies PubMed attributes to Noble, M. appear to discuss autism. Naughty naughty.

Richard Deth

Deth’s paper, if I may quote myself, can be summed up thusly:The basic gist of the Deth paper is that various toxins, including thimerosal, affect methionine synthase activity (a process that helps in building proteins) and that this can adversely affect children. In short, the Deth paper alleges that thimerosal causes methionine synthase dysfunction (MSD).

There are several issues with this as they relate to autism. Firstly, MSD and autism do not resemble each other. Symptoms of MSD are: Anemia, moderate to severe developmental delay, lethargy, anorexia, and homocystinuria (mental retardation, dislocation of the crystalline lens of the eye, sparse blond hair, and cardiovascular and skeletal deformities). Further issues:

1) There is no active transport mechanism into the central nervous system currently known for ethylmercury (thimerosal) whereas there is an known and active transport mechanism for methylmercury.
2) Because its half-life is much longer, methylmercury is more likely to accumulate than ethylmercury, causing higher levels of mercury in the blood.
3) Exposing cells in vitro to ethylmercury eliminates the most important difference between those two forms of mercury, and ignores the fact that ethylmercury is unlikely to enter the central nervous system at concentrations likely to be harmful.
4) The authors chose to use a cell line derived from a metastatic peripheral nervous system tumor to make predictions about developing healthy cells of the central nervous system. If the authors were interested in making claims about the developing central nervous system they should use cells derived from there.
5) The authors make statements in their introduction about developmental disorders such as fetal alcohol syndrome, Rhett’s syndrome, or Fragile-X syndrome, they fail to consider the fact that all of these diseases have their origins in the developing embryo and fetus, not postnatally.
6) The authors’ reference a study that evaluated the causal association between thimerosal and vaccines using the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). Remember how good VAERS is?

Bart Cubbins produced a video detailing similar points.

Martha Herbert and Dianne Vargas

These two papers independeintly of each other indicated a role for neuroinflammation in autism (<a href="; rel="nofollow"Herbert here and Vargas here but they differ slightly. The Vargas paper states:

neuroinflammatory process appears to be associated with an ongoing and chronic mechanism of CNS dysfunction

and leaves it at that. Herbert specualtes with no basis regarding the fact that metals might play a part in the neuroinflammation. She has no basis for these speculations and it surprises me that they’re in a paper published in such a good journal.

Jill James

Jill James’s studies revolve around glutathione. Glutathione, amongst other things, removes merucry from the human body. James’ studies purport to show that autistic people are deficient in Glutathione and thus when they get mercury they can’t excrete it in the same way non-autistic people do.

However, they don’t. James tried to show that the two types of Glutathione in the body (what she called Active and Inactive) were about 31% (Active) and 33% (Inactive) less in autistic kids than non-autistic kids. However, it should be noted that these are not two differing forms of Glutathione but instead two states of one thing which have a relationship to each other – when one goes up, the other goes down. As Not Mercury states:

Decreased synthetic capability is one possible explanation but this would probably result in a significant deficit of total glutathione not an imbalance between the two oxidation states. _If James found any evidence of impaired glutathione synthesis in this small group of children it wasn’t included in any of her published work_. It doesn’t sound like the children were suffering from a glutathione deficiency as much as an increased oxidative burden greater than the capacity to recycle and glutathione and maintain full oxidative defense capacity.

No deficiency in Glutathione. But Not Mercury takes it a step further:

let’s suppose children with autism had significantly lower levels of glutathione. Would it render them unable to detoxify thimerosal from vaccines? Probably not.

The average human carries about 6milligrams mercury, even if James’ figures were accurate (which they are clearly not) or represent what she claims they do (which they clearly don’t) then the human body would still have several million times more glutathione than needed to excrete the suspect mercury. As Not Mercury says:

A person so severely deficient in glutathione they would be unable to detoxify 250 micrograms of mercury (upper limit of thiomersal in vaccines 5 years ago) probably wouldn’t survive long enough to be vaccinated in the first place. Every breath of air would expose them to lethal levels of ozone, pollutants and other oxidants.

Please read all of Not Mercury’s piece. It’s an eye opener.

Thomas Burbacher

This paper reached one conclusion.

The key findings of the current study are the differences in the disposition kinetics and demethylation rates of thimerosal and MeHg. Consequently, MeHg is not a suitable reference for risk assessment from exposure to thimerosal derived Hg. Knowledge of the biotransformation of thimerosal, the chemical identity of the Hg-containing species in the blood and brain, and the neurotoxic potential of intact thimerosal and its various biotransformation products, including ethylmercury are urgently needed to afford a meaningful interpretation of the potential developmental effects of immunization with thimerosal-containing vaccines in newborns and infants. This information is critical if we are to respond to public concerns regarding the safety of childhood immunizations

In other words, Burbacher blood vs brain is not a valid comparison and that methHG vs ethHG is not valid either. He then goes on to state that more research is needed into what the toxic effects of thimerosal might be. He states that mercury from vaccines doesn’t accumulate as much in blood as it does in the brain and thusly, using blood levels of mercury to represent brain levels of mercury is innacurate.

It was also presented that this paper connected the dots between thiomersal and neuroinflammation (see Herbert and Vargas) but this is a false representation and not claimed or even insinuated by Burbacher.

Two more issues arose from this paper. Firstly, when the Burbacher team performed the extraction of mercury from the blood or brain matter, they failed to introduce controls to ensure that the thimerosal was not degraded in any way as a result of the extraction process. This means they had to basically assume from the resultant possibly contaminated material how much was attributable to methylmercury and how much to thimerosal (ethylmercury). Secondly, Burbacher used thimerosal free vaccines and added pure thimerosal. It is difficult to know how this fresh preparation compares with vaccine formulas when thimerosal is part of the manufacturing process and may have suffered some degradation to inorganic Hg in the vials before administration.

Issac Pessah

The Pessah paper related how the study team found that thiomersal administered to mice caused “dendritic cells” damage. Specifically:

the thimerosal disrupted the normal biological signals that take place in cells, Pessah said. At lower concentrations, the signal disruption caused an inflammatory response; at higher concentrations it caused cell death.

So the position here is that thimerosal has a negative effect on the immune system. Lots of parents think autism is immune-system related. However, this study is a) unreplicated (as far as I know) and b) we may be overestmating the real world effect. Here’s Autism Diva talking about hearing Pessah on Autism One radio.

But the really weird thing is how he described how long the effect would last when the dendritic cells came into contact with mercury. If Autism Diva understood him correctly, lets say a kid gets injected with a vaccine containing thimerosal and the dendritic cells that come into contact with the thimerosal. This is not necessarily all the dendritic cells–some of them, and the DCs are affected by the thimerosal, depending on how much thimerosal they come into contact with. And this effect lasts…. years and years? Is that what he said? No.

Was it months and months? Is that what he said? Maybe it was days and days? Hours and hours? No, actually, what he said, if Autism Diva heard him correctly, was “minutes and minutes.”

So, we know that if you take dendritic cells of a particular kind out of a mouse, and grow them in a glass dish and dump a weak solution of thimerosal on them, they freak out or get a little weird and either way can’t do their job normally, and this effect lasts for,


minutes and minutes.

And speaking of Autism Diva we come around to:

Mady Hornig

Briefly, Mady Horning conducted a study wherein she claimed to have developed a mouse model for autism which she then used to test how the model responded to the introduction of thiomersal. According to Hornig, the study showed that:

1. The mice they used are a good model for autistic people
2. The ‘vaccine’ schedule they used successfully mimicks childhood immunization programs
3. That the outcomes from Auto-immune disease sensitive mice were consistent with autism
4. That this indicates a genetically influenced sensitivity to thimerosal in autistic people

Autism Diva took this study apart when she pointed out that:

Did Dr. Hornig and colleagues find these features [diagnostic criteria for autism] in the ‘SJL Thim” mice?’ No.

Prometheus also had reservations about the design of the study:

So, the human experiences a maximum blood level of 1.63 (arbitrary units) and the mouse – since it is being dosed at a smaller fraction of its half-life – sees a maximum blood level of 2.61. In short, the mouse gets to a blood level 60% higher than the human……I found myself wondering, “Why didn’t they use the 50th percentile (50% weigh more than this weight, 50% weigh less – sort of an ‘average weight’)?” I have no answer – but I have an idea. By using the 10th percentile, they were able to give the baby mice an even bigger dose of mercury……So, by using the 10th percentile weights, the authors were able to give the mice about 15% more thimerosal. This goes nicely with the dosing schedule to significantly raise the dose the mice receive.

One of the big talking points from this study was reported by David Kirby in Evidence of Harm:

… putting up a photo of two mice. “He has groomed through the skull, and eventually destroys his partner,” Hornig said. Every parent of an autistic kid in the room could be seen grimacing in dark recognition of such destructive behavior.”(page 312)

Uh-huh, or maybe they were just grimacing as its not nice looking at mice chewing through the skulls of other mice?

Anyway, hyperbole aside, why did Hornig choose those particular mice? Here’s what else Autism Diva found out.

Why did Hornig pick the SJL/J mice in particular?….Besides being an “autoimmune disease-sensitive” breed what else is known about the SJL/J mice?

Good question. Diva found the answer highly revealing:

1. High spontaneous fighting….
2. Severe fighting among males housed together, beginning at about 8 weeks.
3. Most males will be killed by 4-5 months unless caged separately….

Diva also found a separate source that showed that:

…some breeds do a kind of agressive grooming of other mice called, “barbering”

So, it seems that Hornig sourced a set of mice known to be aggressive, she then systematically overdosed them and then reported the fact that this aggression was indicative of autism. Right.

Wrapping It Up

A study that hasn’t yet been done. A study that alleges something it can’t back up. A study with no data and empty conclusions. Two studies that have nothing discernable to do with heavy metals. A study that shows ethylmercury and methylmercury are not comparable. A study that damages cells taken from a mouse for the span of minutes and a study that purposefully overdosed mice known to be aggressive.

Lets remind ourselves of the Judge;s opinion of this same body of science when it was presented by Dr Geier in the RhoGAM hearings as support for the view that thiomersal causes autism:

…the Court notes that, in fact, a literature review can be an appropriate part of a method of determining general causation. However, a literature review must still be performed appropriately. As revealed by his testimony at the Daubert hearing, Dr. Geier, however, relied upon a number of disparate and unconnected studies, including the findings of Dr. Haley and Dr. Lucier, to reach a piecemeal conclusion with respect to general causation…..However, upon being subjected to extensive cross examination, much of Dr. Geier’s analysis, based upon his collective review of a motley assortment of diverse literature, proved, in the Court’s view, to be overstated.

Reversal of Rett Symptoms

9 Feb

Reversal of Neurological Defects in a Mouse Model of Rett Syndrome.

Rett Syndrome is an ASD. My friend Kassiane has Rett Syndrome. I would bookmark her blog as I’m sure she will want to talk about this.

Yesterday, the news was published that claimed that symptoms of Rett Syndrome had been reversed in a mouse model of Rett. It seems like decent enough science and yet all the news reports I’ve seen are encouraging very worrying responses in some people.

First, lets go through the science at a level people like me can understand it.

Rett is ’caused’ due to mutations in the MECP2 gene. In simple terms what this paper described was the science team attempting to emulate Rett in mice and then turn on the MECP2 gene to see what happened. One of the things that happened was that in roughly half of the mice they did indeed reverse the symptoms of Rett.

This paper has made it into the Schafer Autism Report already. It is also being discussed on the Autism Yahoo Groups with a view to possibly extending these findings:

Is any one going to contact them in regard to our children’s symptoms?

Posted yesterday to the Autism-Mercury group.

What is worrying to me is two things. First is the applicability of this work to humans. One of my science guys whom I rely on to translate this kind of stuff said:

Simply put, this paper is good work, but it’s a headline job because it has no applicability to humans; this paper simply validated Zoghbi’s work.

That’s worrying enough but in a world inhabited by the likes of Rashid Buttar, the Geier’s and various others who leap from madness to madness in their frightening treatment regimes is the second and much more truly scary aspect of this paper that no one seems to be discussing.

I said above that in half of the mice Rett symptoms were indeed reversed. What about the other half?

….prior to symptom onset, revealed toxicity associated with abrupt Mecp2 reactivation as 9 out of 17 mice developed neurological symptoms and died….The data indicate that sudden widespread activation of the Mecp2 gene leads to either rapid death or complete phenotypic rescue.

This is quite literally, kill or cure.

I have a really horrible feeling that certain ‘doctors’ are going to be chasing this like a dog with a bone – already the Yahoo Groups are asking for details. No one is discussing this ‘detail’. A little bit of restraint is very much what’s required here.


Its begun already. Sallie Bernard posted a comment from Richard Deth on the Autism-Mercury group:

The just-published study shows “Rett syndrome” can be reversed in mice, lacking MeCP2, which binds to methylated DNA. Reversal was accomplished by turning on MeCP2 after symptoms (neurological and obesity) were fully developed. The important point is that an abnormal pattern of gene expression, due to interuption of the methylation-dependent epigenetic mechanism, can be reversed if the methylation-dependent epigenetic mechanism is brought back to normal.

The parallels for autism are clear. If impairments of methylation-dependent epigenetic regulation, caused by oxidative stress
rather than MECP2 deletion, can be reversed, then recovery can occur.

No mention of the rather important details that the reversal killed half the mice, instead just a comparison of this decent science with his own brand of poor science in order to lend it weight and credibility it doesn’t have,

Bad Week For Thiomersal/Autism Hypothesis

15 Jul

It’s really not been such a good week or so to believe the thiomersal/autism hypothesis.

Firstly, there was the latest Canadian study that concluded:

The prevalence of pervasive developmental disorder in Montreal was high, increasing in recent birth cohorts as found in most countries. Factors accounting for the increase include a broadening of diagnostic concepts and criteria, increased awareness and, therefore, better identification of children with pervasive developmental disorders in communities and epidemiologic surveys, and improved access to services. The findings ruled out an association between pervasive developmental disorder
and either high levels of ethylmercury exposure comparable with those experienced in the United States in the 1990s or 1- or 2-dose measles-mumps-rubella vaccinations.

Next up was the legal and scientific smackdown which examined the scientific credentials of both the body of evidence amassed thus far in support of the thiomersal/autism connection _and_ two of its leading expert – Boyd Haley and Mark Geier:

The court…finds that Dr. Haley’s report does not state an expert opinion that thimerosal causes autism, rather just that he has a theory about how such a thing could happen. At best, he expressed “strong belief” that the cause of “neurodevelopmental disorders in infants” is exposure to an organic-mercury compound such as thimerosal……the disconnected literature he presents does not add up to the opinion and conclusion that Dr. Geier is offering. Accordingly, the Court finds that Dr. Geier’s literature review, in this instance, does not meet the Daubert standard of being both derived by the scientific method and relevant to the “task at hand…..the Court notes that Dr. Geier is not a pediatrician or a pediatric neurologist. In fact, testimony was presented to the Court that Dr. Geier was not even successful in sitting for his Medical Board examination in the specific field of pediatric genetics….the Court finds that Dr. Geier was not specifically qualified to perform a differential diagnosis of a pediatric neurological disorder, and, that he did not properly perform the differential diagnosis

Thirdly, despite a long drawn out letter writing campaign featuring other named expert witness Richard Deth, Hawaii decided to veto a bill banning thimerosal containing vaccines because:

This bill is objectionable because it restricts the use of FDA-approved vaccines for no scientifically sound reason…….This bill ignores the body of current scientific evidence on thimerosal-containing vaccines.

Bad enough, but just to really kick the thiomersal/autism hypothesis in the teeth, CDDS released their quarterly autism figures. Joseph looked at the figures and sure enough – they’re still rising. Let’s recall that David Kirby has said that:

If the total number of 3-5 year olds in the California DDS system has not declined by 2007, that would deal a severe blow to the autism-thimerosal hypothesis. He [Kirby] also conceded that total cases among 3-5 year olds, not changes in the rate of increase is the right measure

Guess what? We’re two quarters away from 2007. The total number of 3 – 5 year olds in the CDDS has _not_ declined.

3 – 5 cohort caseload over the last 16 quarters as compiled by Dad of Cameron.

Canada Speaks: No, It’s Not Vaccines

6 Jul

Pediatrics have published a new paper, *Pervasive Developmental Disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Prevalence and Links With Immunizations* authored by Fombonne et al.

Pre-empting an NAA style ad hominem attack, the authors declare their conflicts early.

In the United Kingdom, Dr Fombonne has provided advice on the epidemiology and clinical aspects of autism to scientists advising parents, to vaccine manufacturers, and to several government committees between 1998 and 2001. Since June 2004, Dr Fombonne has been an expert witness for vaccine manufacturers in US thimerosal litigation. None of his research has ever been funded by the industry.

As they don’t agree with the paper this has caused the usual suspects, notably Safe Minds and FAIR Autism Media to highlight these aspects of the paper in an attempt to claim these invalidate the papers findings. Mark Blaxill of Safe Minds says that:

According to an analysis by SafeMinds, however, the study […] should be treated with skepticism, for a number of reasons.

Whilst David Ayoub states that:

“This is just another heavily biased study by an author with a long track record of financial ties to the drug industry, and whose previous views on the epidemiology of autism have been discredited,” wrote Ayoub

So, as far as the mercury militia are concerned, the following points are an issue.

1) Fombonne’s alleged financial ties to the drug industry. One assumes he is referring to Fombonne’s pre-stated offering of advice on the epidemiology and clinical aspects of autism and the fact that he’s an expert witness for vaccine manufacturers.

Let’s cut the shit here shall we? Richard Deth is a petitioners’ expert witness in major vaccine litigation. So are the Geier’s. So are various others. They have an equal ‘special interest’. Should we dismiss their papers out of hand? Either we allow *all* or allow *none*.

2) Fombonne’s previous views on the epidemiology of autism have been discredited.

Really? They have? By who? In what journal was this ‘discrediting’ published? Lets be clear here. Ayoub uses the word ‘discredited’. He didn’t say, ‘challenged’. He didn’t say ‘contraversial’ he said ‘discredited’.

David Ayoub by contrast, thinks that Rashid Buttar – a man who’s own patients think he’s a money grabbing quack – is an industry expert:

The 2 top chelation people in the world are Gary Gordon, MD, and Rashid Buttar, MD, he adds.

It’s my opinion that anyone who thinks Rashid Buttar is ‘top’ of anything autism related needs get his head back to reality pretty quickly.

3) Mark Blaxill at least takes a stab at something substantive. He questions the study methodology on two points. Firstly, he tries to insinuate that what might be true for Canada might not be for the US. Secondly he states that some of the study subjects may have received thiomersal from other vaccine sources than those noted in the study.

Fombonne et al write that:

The findings ruled out an association between pervasive developmental disorder and either high levels of ethylmercury exposure comparable with those experienced in the United States in the 1990s or 1- or 2-dose measles-mumps-rubella vaccinations.

So the word ‘comparable’ is used. Fombonne et al never attempt to state that it is a fact that what’s true for Canada is true for the US. However, its also true that there wouldn’t seem to be any good reason for _not_ thinking that. Why would the US and Canada be different? Surely thiomersal is thiomersal?

After that weak stab at something relevant, Blaxill retreats to Ayoub’s tactics of smear and spin.

Dr. Fombonne wrongfully claims that large-population studies in the United States, England and Denmark also disprove a link between mercury and autism, and he states that “there is no autism epidemic.”

The one mention of the word ‘Denmark’ in the entire paper is this one:

Our results are entirely consistent with cohort, case-control, and other ecological studies performed in Denmark and Sweden.

Fombonne et al never claim that these studies disprove anything. They merely note that consistency between those studies and their own. I can’t locate the use of the word ‘England’, ‘UK’, ‘united kingdom’ or ‘Britian’ anywhere in this paper so I fail to see why Blaxill mentions them.

Blaxill is guilty of intellectual dishonesty many times in his ‘rebuttal’. None more so than when he states that:

He conveniently ignores the vast body of scientific evidence that has shown that environmental factors such as mercury may have caused the increased number of autism diagnoses in the US and other countries.

Fombonne et al do not at any point discuss generalised ‘environmental factors such as mercury’. They discuss the key question regarding thiomersal and MMR. It raises questions about Blaxill’s integrity that he would try and switch the focus onto something he and his group explicitly have targeted to something much more general and which Fombonne et al does not address. This is a pattern becoming more and more apparent from key members of the mercury militia. As science continues to fail to support any causative link between thiomersal, MMR and autism, these groups are becoming much more generalised in their terminology. Expect to see more of this as 2006 draws to a close.

Blaxill also claims there is an increased number of autism diagnoses yet he fails to point to evidence for this. Fombonne’s own research on this point indicates a high but stable prevalence.

Blaxill continues:

Dr. Fombonne’s actions have not historically been in the best interest of families with autism—he has declared himself an expert witness on behalf of various pharmaceutical companies in thimerosal-related litigation.

By contrast, the Geier’s actions have not been in the interests of autistic peoples. And in fact this whole point about ‘best interests’ is childish in the extreme. The _only_ interest that science should adhere to is that of honest science. To suggest otherwise leaves a question mark over the objectives of Blaxill’s actions.

Several independent federal agencies and respected scientists and researchers have received federal funds to investigate the autism epidemic and the biological
plausibility of a link between mercury and ASDs.

Why is this even mentioned? Why not wait for them to be completed? Like this one already is.

Multiple studies have indicated that there is a connection between childhood vaccines containing thimerosal and the incidence of autism.

Blaxill (maybe purposefully) doesn’t mention _who_ might’ve conducted those studies, or where they were published. I’m guessing that he means the Geier’s but that recent revalations regarding their integrity and the quality of their work, made him think twice about saying their names for the record. Can’t say I blame him.

Skeptico, Orac and Autism Diva also comment on this study.