When it rains, it pours. Last week, we had the Shattuck paper; this week, I’m sucked right back into this topic, at least for today.
A few weeks ago, I commented about a truly frightening direction that autism quackery was taking, with the father-son team of Mark and David Geier’s bizarre proposal that chemically castrating autistic children using a drug like Lupron would “make chelation therapy” more effective because, according to them, testosterone somehow binds up mercury, making it more difficult to remove with chelation. Never mind that there is no convincing scientific evidence that chelation therapy does anything to help the behavioral symptoms of autism or that mercury in vaccines causes autism, and never mind that there is no physiological evidence that testosterone in any way binds mercury in the body, much less makes it inaccessible to chelation therapy. Never mind that the Geiers based their concept of “testosterone sheets” on a paper from 1968 looking at the crystal structure of testosterone and mercuric chloride derived from crystals made by boiling equimolar amounts of testosterone and mercuric chloride in hot benzene, conditions far from physiologic. They just speculated that testosterone binds mercury and that lowering testosterone would free up the mercury for chelation, even though there was no evidence for this concept.
Kathleen Seidel, in a tour de force of analysis, has uncovered something I had been unaware of that is even more frightening than the Geiers’ proposal to treat autistic children on the basis of no sound evidence with powerful drugs that suppress the production of steroid sex hormones. She’s found out that the Geiers have applied for a U.S. Patent on this new “treatment” for autism.
Kathleen reports on and analyzes this application in great detail, leaving me fairly little to comment on. Having helped to write a patent application myself, I know just how repetitive and filled with legalese mixed with scientific jargon a patent application can be; so she is to be commended for wading through it all and making it comprehensible to the educated lay person. It takes some effort to read the whole thing, but, if you want to see just how far the Geiers have sunk, it’s worth looking at. Basically, they’re trying to patent their quackery, and there’s only one reason that you try to patent a treatment.
Yes, the Geiers are out to protect their concept so that no one can use it without paying them royalties. Never mind if it works or not; never mind if there’s any science behind it or not. They’re trying to patent it. In writing patent applications, applicants almost always make claims that are as broad as possible, but the Geiers have gone above and beyond the usual, in essence claiming their treatment for autism and “related conditions,” including:
Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, ALS, nephritic syndrome, renal failure, asthma; autoimmune disorders/hyper-immune disorders such as systemic lupus, autoimmune thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis, vasculitis, myelitis, glomerulonephritis, and optic neuritis; neurologic conditions such as infantile cerebral palsy, epilepsy, migraine, toxic encephalopathy, polyneuropathy, cerebral degenerations, anterior horn cell disease, spinocerebellar disease, extrapyramidal disease, and myopathy.
gastrointestinal problems which occur alone or as are often are found in autism asthma, asthma-like problems or other respiratory problems which occur alone or as are often are found in autism stroke and cardiovascular disease which involve testosterone and or mercury precocious puberty in males and females and other disorders resulting from high or early expressed testosterones, estrogens, FSH, LH, and other associated molecules
Sadly, the Geiers might actually get away with this. It’s bad enough that they are somehow managing to get away with treating children with Lupron without any sort of oversight by an Institutional Review Board. How they managed to pull this off, I don’t know. What is intolerable is that, because patent applications don’t necessarily have to prove efficacy, merely originality, there is an outside chance that their patent application for an idea for a speculative treatment with no substantive scientific evidence behind it may succeed. Another reason that this application may succeed is because the U.S. is one of the only nations that allows medical process patents (patents not on drugs or medical devices, but on treatments or surgical procedures using existing drugs or devices). If so, they will have patented their bogus treatment for not just autism, but any illness that they think they can link to mercury overload, so that quacks everywhere wanting to use it will have to pay them royalties.
I can’t wait to see how the alties out there who claim that “alternative medicine” practitioners or those advocating “alternative treatments” (like the Geiers) are purer or less in it for the money than pharmaceutical companies or “conventional doctors,” spin this one.
ADDENDUM: While I’m on the topic again, you should check out this open letter to Generation Rescue, Safeminds, etc., by Kevin Leitch.