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The Time Has Come … To Restore the Lancet Paper

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F Edward Yazbak MD

It would be safe to say that we never had a circus in the United States that remotely resembled the three-year-long hearings of the General Medical Council in London that decided the “fitness to practice medicine” of Drs. Murch, Walker-Smith and Wakefield. 

Thanks to frequent reports by John Stone and remarkably detailed analyses by Martin Hewitt most of us in the United States began to understand the wild and crazy happenings at the GMC and the role of freelance journalist Brian Deer who seemed to have started the whole saga.

In January 2010, the GMC announced its decision that “serious professional misconduct” by the doctors had occurred, a decision that was promptly appealed by Professor John Walker-Smith.

Swayed by the events, the allegations of scientific fraud and the frenzied barrage of anti-Wakefield sentiment, the Editor of the Lancet retracted the original February 1998 paper by Wakefield et al. 

In July 2010, even though a duly filed appeal had been initiated, the GMC revoked the medical licenses of Professor Walker-Smith and of Dr. Andrew Wakefield or as they say in England, erased their names from the medical practice register.

Professor Walker-Smith’s appeal was heard in February 2012 by Justice Mitting who promptly quashed all charges against the distinguished scholar and announced his decision in a blistering criticism of the GMC decision. A single sentence by Justice Mitting well described his opinion of the GMC proceedings: 
"It would be a misfortune if this were to happen again"

The Mitting decision also proved that there had never been any scientific fraud as alleged by Brian Deer in the British Medical Journal, where the Lancet article had been so frequently maligned.


Recently, Walker, Fortunato, Gonzalez and Krigsman published a remarkable paper titled “Identification of Unique Gene Expression Profile in Children with Regressive Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Ileocolitis” in which they concluded in part that “Gene expression profiles in intestinal biopsy tissue from patients with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and ASDGI, while having significant overlap with each other, also showed distinctive features for each group. Taken together, these results demonstrate that ASDGI children have a gastrointestinal mucosal molecular profile that overlaps significantly with known inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), yet has distinctive features that further supports the presence of an ASD-associated IBD variant…

The presence of “distinctive features" of "an ASD-associated IBD variant” more than confirms the fact that Wakefield et al were on the right track, that their research was justified and that their findings were valid. 


Under extreme pressure, the Editor of the Lancet retracted the Wakefield paper when the General Medical Council accused three of its authors of professional misconduct and raised questions about the integrity of their research and the strength of their findings.

Since then, a Court of Law found that there had neither been professional misconduct nor scientific fraud and an independent study, conducted in the United States, confirmed that children with regressive autism do indeed have very peculiar and unique gastro-intestinal findings, exactly what Wakefield, Walker-Smith and others had reported in 1998.

Now is the perfect time for the Editor of the Lancet to restore the Wakefield paper, in spite of the present media hysterics.

He had the courage to publish that important research in the first place.

He should have the grit to publish it again in the best tradition of the Lancet.

F Edward Yazbak MD, FAAP
Falmouth, Massachusetts