As someone who regularly listens and/or attends meetings of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), I was stunned and confused by the statements made by IACC public member Alison Singer in the Autism Science Foundation’s recent press release regarding vaccine research adopted by the IACC on November 10th. While it is true that two vaccine objectives in the draft were rejected, it is more accurate to say that the two vaccine objectives were deleted and a new vaccine objective adopted. In terms of this research not being based on “good science” it is clear the Ms. Singer must have attended a different meeting from the one I attended.
The addition of language from the Institute’s of Medicine’s (IOM) 2004 report on vaccines and autism clarifies that the current body of epidemiological research is limited in detecting subpopulations genetic susceptibilities to vaccines. The focus of the new objective is to detect these subpopulations and identified vaccines as an area of possible investigation. This language also alludes to the same recommendations made by the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC – an expert federal advisory committee) this past June with regard to investigation of subpopulations and conducting research via animal models and cell cultures. Ms. Singer would do well to familiarize herself with the recognized deficits in vaccine safety research noted by the IOM and the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC – a federal advisory committee of experts) and the “good science” needed as it applies to autism. Below are additional salient quotes from IOM 2004 that hold implications for the IACC’s strategic plan:
“The committee notes several factors that limit acceptance at this time of the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism… However, the experiments showing effects of thimerosal on biochemical pathways in cell culture systems and showing abnormalities in the immune system or metal metabolism in people with autism are provocative; the autism research community should consider the appropriate composition of the autism research portfolio with some of these new findings in mind...”