Should We Still Be Concerned about Thimerosal?

Approximately fifteen years ago, Dr. Mark Geier and his son David conducted research that demonstrated that Thimerosal, a dangerous organomercury compound used as a preservative in vaccines, can increase a child’s risk for developing neurological disorders like autism. Why did those like Geier believe Thimerosal poses a potential threat to children? Research had shown that for months after thimerosal exposure, this compound can alter the quantity of neurons found in the hippocampus and thalamus, parts of the brain that play a crucial role in cognitive development.

In response to these groundbreaking findings and the public awareness that ensued, the CDC decided to eliminate the presence of Thimerosal in many common childhood vaccines. For many, this was enough to subdue fears and more or less wipe the issue from public consciousness. However, for those like Dr. Mark Geier, Thimerosal was still very much an issue of concern, as this preservative was not banned from all childhood vaccines.

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The truth is that Thimerosal is still present in a number of influenza vaccines that are administered to millions of pregnant women and young children each year. The CDC’s continued insistence that Thimerosal is safe in low doses challenged Dr. Geier to prove the validity of this claim. One of his most recent papers published in 2014, “A Case-Control Study Evaluating the Relationship Between Thimerosal-Containing Haemophilus Influenza Type B Vaccine Administration and the Risk for a Pervasive Developmental Disorder Diagnosis in the United States,” evaluated this relationship in children diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) who received Thimerosal-containing haemophilus influenza vaccine within the first 15-months of life. Haemophilus, often referred to as Hib, is caused by bacteria and can lead to pneumonia, throat swelling, infections and even death.

To conduct his study, Dr. Geier collected information from a PDD case group and a control group to determine which experienced greater exposure to organic mercury from Thimerosal-containing vaccinations in early childhood. Using statistic modeling methodology, Geier compared the data collected from three different test groups that received varying amounts of Thimerosal at different stages of early childhood (all within 15 months of birth).

Unlike several previous epidemiological studies, Geier’s research did find a significant relationship between organic mercury exposure from Thimerosal-containing childhood vaccines and the risk of child being subsequently diagnosed with a PDD. Even when test subjects were divided by gender, the results still clearly indicated that children diagnosed with PDD were more likely to have had higher exposure to Thimerosal through the Hib vaccine. Such strongly suggests that the presence of Thimerosal can indeed negatively impact the neurological development of its recipients.

There’s no denying that vaccinations play an important role in the health and well-being of the public by largely preventing the spread of deadly diseases. However, vaccinations should only protect individuals from harm, not inflict it upon them. When vaccinations present potentially dangerous risks to recipients, it’s time for reevaluation, and Dr. Geier’s latest research has shown us just that.

A Look Back at Dr. Mark Geier’s Revolutionary Breakthrough in Genetic Therapy

The advanced field of genetic engineering has perhaps made more revolutionary and impactful contributions to our understanding of human health and disease than any other in science. One of the field’s earliest and most significant breakthroughs occurred less than fifty years ago thanks to the efforts of three American scientists, whose work truly changed the way we think about treating genetic disorders.

In 1971, Dr. Mark Geier, Dr. Carl Merril and Dr. John Petricciani made a major advancement in the field of genetic engineering after successfully treating a sick cell with a healthy virus.  In an effort to find a more comprehensive cure for genetic diseases like Galactosemia, a genetic disease which prevents the body from metabolizing milk, Dr. Geier and his colleagues set out to test the effectiveness of introducing a healthy virus to a defective cell lacking a needed gene.

The Approach

Drs. Geier, Merril and Petricciani focused on the application of a healthy virus as the key to this type of genetic therapy because viruses are themselves, packages of genetic material. Many in science had long suspected that just as a virus could deteriorate and ultimately kill a cell, so too could it affect a cell positively, making it more healthy by supplying a missing gene. To test their hypothesis, Geier and his colleagues used the virus lamda bacteriophage, a virus known for its low risk of endangering humans. The lamda bacteriophage virus included an enzyme that metabolizes galactose, the enzyme absent/underrepresented in the genetic makeup of children who suffer from Galactosemia.

Dr. Geier collected and grew skin cells from a sufferer of the genetic disease and introduced it to the lamda bacteriophage virus. He and his scientific partners then discovered that the genetic material of the virus had been successfully transferred to the lab tissue cells, and was actively functioning within the cell. They then tested what would happen if glucose was introduced to the cell, and to the delight of the scientific community, observed the cell could now successfully break down the sugar. The presence of the deficient enzyme had increased, and the cell proved to be fully functioning.

The Impact

What did it all mean? Dr. Geier’s findings were significant because they ultimately showed for the first time that bacterial genetic material can function after placement within a human cell. This also reconfirmed the hypothesis that the genetic code is the same wherever found. Dr. Geier’s results also gave many increased hope that viral-mediated genetic therapy would be a viable, safer, and more accessible option for those suffering from genetic diseases. The gravity of his findings was also immediately recognized by other leading scientists of the time as a powerful research tool for comprehending genetic disease at the molecular level.

Viral-Mediated Genetic Therapy Today

Dr. Geier’s work ultimately paved the way for a new approach to genetic engineering that continues to this day. In fact, according to a recent May 2014 article in Nature Reviews Genetics, researchers are currently engineering adeno-associated viruses for clinical gene therapy. Adeno-associated viruses are small viruses with single-stranded DNA that have been proven to introduce genetic material to the 19th chromosome with extremely high accuracy. The adeno-associated virus will most likely treat muscle and eye diseases, as well as deliver genes to the brain through AAV vectors. Many consider the adeno-associated virus to possess significant potential for treating a host of genetic diseases.