Vaccines and Genetic Mutation

Harold E. Buttram, MD; Susan Kreider, RN; Alan R. Yurko

Introduction

The writers of this article make no claims of being authorities in the fields of genetics or immunology, but being non-experts may at times carry an advantage in that, viewing more from a distance, one may sometimes perceive things that escape those more closely involved in the details and complexities of a field or fields. This may be true for the interactions of vaccines with the human immunology and genetics, about which science truly knows very little.

This article does review the work of three pioneer researchers in this field, John Martin, PhD, MD, Howard B Urnovitz, PhD, and Dr. MG Montinari, work which shows fairly convincing evidence that genetic changes are being found in some patients in whom vaccine reactions appear to be causally involved. There are no claims that this evidence constitutes proof of genetic change from vaccines. What we do hope to establish from the work of these researchers is that it is both possible and plausible that subtle, widespread genetic changes may be taking place as a result of current childhood vaccine programs, possibly already affecting large portions of our children.

The burden of proof for vaccine reactions should not rest on parents, as it does now in our medical-legal system. The burden of proof for the safety of vaccines; that is, that the vaccines are NOT causing adverse genetic changes, should rest on the manufacturers, federal and state government health agencies, and the schools who are now mandating the vaccines. Until this matter is settled, does anyone at any level truly have the right to force vaccines in ever growing numbers on a generation of children?

Basic Immunology for All Ages

Although the technical intricacies of the human immune system are extremely complex, the principles of their operations are the essence of simplicity and might be compared to the fortifications of a Medieval castle. Using this analogy, first there might be outlying outposts with sentinels, then a moat, then the main castle wall, and finally the inner defenses surrounding the castle itself, in which reside a royal family. The latter of course represents the human genetic system, which the human immune system is designed to protect at all costs.

The sentinels would be represented by a subdivision of lymphocytes (a form of white blood cell), which are called “memory cells” because of their having memory for former exposures to foreign invaders, and which will begin an explosion of cloning on re-exposure to the same invader. The main castle wall would be represented by the mucous membranes of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, and the inner defenses by the antibody-producing plasma cells (another form of white blood cell) located in the bone marrow.

Immunity: Cellular Immunity

For countless millennia in human evolution, the cellular immunity of the mucous membranes of the human system have been the primary route of entry of disease-causing microorganisms into the human body, and therefore through evolution, the mucous membranes have evolved into the major defense system of the body. In health these membranes are coated with an “antiseptic paint” consisting of untold billions and trillions of molecules of secretory immunoglobulin A antibodies, whose role is to recognize every single molecule passing into or through these tracts, sorting out the nutrients in the case of the intestinal tract, and intercepting all foreign and alien substances, including incompletely digested foods. It would take several very large computers to equal the intelligence of this system when it is working as it should. It is all that is standing between a very thin (and dumb) gut membrane and a host of toxic substances which would otherwise pass through the membrane into the blood stream. In addition to this antiseptic paint, the primary agent of defense of the mucous membranes against infectious micro-organisms is a cellular immunity, the primary agents of which are phagocytic (gobbling up) macrophages and cytotoxic T lymphocytes.

Humoral Immunity

The inner defenses are represented by plasma cells in the bone marrow with their antibody production, which normally serve as a secondary defense for the body, coming into action as an accessory of the mucosal (cellular) immunity, or as a primary defense when cellular immunity has failed. This immunity is referred to as humoral immunity. Plasma cells can produce (1) Macroglobulins, which appear first with an acute infection, being more primitive, serve somewhat like a nonspecific natural antibiotic; (2) Immunoglobulin G antibodies, which are highly specific for a given foreign invader and appear somewhat later after onset of an infection after the process of cloning is set in motion; and (3) IgE antibodies, which are allergy producing.

The Role of Childhood Diseases

There is a school of thought that the so-called minor childhood illnesses of former times, including measles, mumps, chicken pox, and rubella, which entered the body through the mucous membranes, served a necessary and positive purpose in challenging and strengthening the immune system of these membranes. Vaccines in contrast are injected directly into the body, consequently bypassing the mucous membranes, leaving the mucosal immunity relatively weak and stunted.

In both The New England Journal (1) and the journal Thorax, (2) articles have appeared stating that a healthy immune system has a “bias” towards the cellular immune system, whereas people with allergies, asthma, and diseases of an autoimmune origin have a humoral-dominant system. It has also been shown that, once one of these subsets become dominant, it is difficult to shift the system to the other subset. (3)

Genetic Exchanges in the World Around Us

Barbara McClintock, the 1983 Nobel laureate “Corn Lady,” was the first to discover genetic mobility in the so-called jumping genes in the 1930s. For over 50 years she pursued solitary research with corn, uncovering some of nature’s inner most secrets about life.

McClintock studied maize, a form of Indian corn, where distribution of red kernels and yellow kernels is genetically determined. What she perceived was that some of the genes were moving from one place to another on the cell’s chromosomes (the floating threads on which genes are lined like beads on a string). Then she saw patterns in the movements, with sharply differing results in the colored kernels, and realized that some genes, once moved into position, switched other genes on or off. It followed that, while most genes were workers, others were controllers or managers of genes.

According to an article in World Medicine (September 22, 1971, pp 69-72; New Medical Journals, Clareville House, Oxendon St., London), scientists at the University of Geneva have made the startling discovery that biological substances entering directly into the blood stream may truly become a part of us and even a part of our genetic material. The article stated in part: “When Japanese bacteriologists discovered that bacteria of one species transferred their own highly specific antibiotic resistance to bacteria of an entirely different species, they seemed to hit on a unique if not startling phenomenon. Dr. Maurice Stroun and Dr. Pilippe Anker, with colleagues in the Department of Plant Physiology at the University of Geneva, have now accumulated a wealth of evidence that the transfer of genetic information is not confined to bacteria but also can occur between bacteria and higher plants and animals.”

“The Geneva scientists are convinced that normal animal and plant cells also shed DNA and that this DNA is also taken up by other cells in the organism. If they are right, the consequences to virtually every aspect of a cell’s metabolism would be considerable. The growth and development, diseases, and even the evolution of an organism would be affected.”

“Dr. Maurice Stroun and his colleagues did most of their research on plants but have now turned to animals. In their latest set of experiments they used the isolated auricles of frogs’ hearts.” (4) There is no question about the results. They found a high percentage of RNA-DNA (ribonucleic-deoxyribonucleic) hybridization between bacterial DNA extracted from bacteria of the same species as that used in the experiment and titrated RNA extracted from auricles which has been dipped in the bacterial suspension. (DNA, the characteristic nucleic acid of the nucleus in all cells, is the fundamental substance which carries the genetic code within the cells of the body).

“Since we know that no bacteria got into the frog auricles, we can only conclude that the bacterial DNA must have been exuded from the bacteria and absorbed by the animal cells,” says Stroun. “This transfer phenomenon, or transcession, as Dr. Anker called it, is very probably a general one, otherwise, he and Dr. Stroun would hardly have succeeded first go, in getting bacterial RNA synthesized by animal tissues…”

“The implications of this work on transcession are enormous, for the Geneva work suggests that this phenomenon is going on the whole time — even in our own bodies…Could, for example, the heart damage that can follow after rheumatic fever and similar bacterial infections be the result of the body’s immunological system reacting to its own cells producing an alien RNA?” Subsequent studies by Anker and Stroun further confirmed observations in the above report. (5)

Genetic Hybridization

As purely genetic material, it would be expected that viruses are more prone to the process of jumping genes than other microorganisms. The following publication tends to support this hypothesis: In a study of 24 passages of a nuclear polyhedrosis virus through cell cultures there were both insertions and deletions in the virus, appearing to suggest that the virus both donated genetic material to and received genetic material from the cells in which it was cultured, therefore also suggesting the possibility of similar viral exchanges in the human system (our interpretation). (6)

As another possible complication of viral infections (presumably also viral vaccines) similarities have been found between certain viral proteins and proteins related to myelin sheaths of the brain and nervous system.(7) As a result of this protein mimicry between viral proteins and homologous areas of the nervous system, immunological cross reactions may take place resulting in post-infectious or post vaccinal encephalitis, myelitis, or neuritis. These viruses include measles, Epstein-Barr, influenza A and B, and others that cause upper respiratory infections.

Following this line of thought one step further, in an article entitled, “Vaccination and autoimmunity-’vaccinosis’: a dangerous liaison?,” the authors pointed to the potential problem of “molecular mimicry” in vaccines, in which a structural similarity existing between some viral antigen and a self-antigen could, by bringing about a slight modification of the antigenic character of tissues, cause it to appear foreign to the immune system and thus a fair target for antibody production” (and autoimmunity) (8)

Endogenous and Exogenous Assaults on the Human Immune System — Stripping Away the Outer Defenses

Returning to the analogy of the Medieval castle with its series of immune defenses protecting our genetics, in health the human body can stand a great deal of abuse, toxic or otherwise, but when these outer defenses are stripped away leaving our genetics relatively unprotected, it is in this type of scenario where, theoretically, genetic damage could take place. Situations leading to this genetic vulnerability could include one or more of the following:

  1. At a conference a number of years ago, Dr. H.H. Fudenberg, world-renowned immunologist with hundreds of publications to his credit, made the following comments: “One vaccine decreases cell-mediated immunity by 50%, two vaccines by 70%…all triple vaccines (MMR, DTaP) markedly impair cell-mediated immunity, which predisposes to recurrent viral infections, especially otitis media, as well as yeast and fungi infections.”
  2. Severe and/or prolonged stress raises both endogenous adrenalin and serum cortisol levels. It has long been known that cortisone medications tend to depress the immune system. Endogenous elevations of cortisone can do the same.
  3. Toxic chemicals, as in the Persian Gulf War Syndrome (9) or toxic industrial waste sites, which have been associated with increases in chromosomal congenital anomalies in residents living near these sites. (10)
  4. Nutritional deficiencies, especially deficiencies in folic acid, which performs a critical function in making and repairing chromosomes. As reviewed in a monograph on folic acid by Sidney M Baker, M.D., pre-cancerous chromosomal damage has been found in cell cultures when the culture medium contains low levels of folic acid. Smokers with low blood levels of folic acid have more pre-cancerous chromosomal changes than smokers or nonsmokers with normal folic acid levels. (11)
  5. As reviewed in standard pediatric textbooks, newborn babies and infants, having little immunity of their own, are largely dependent on antibodies received from their mother for about 6 months following birth, as indicated by their small lymph nodes, few plasma cells in their bone marrow, and very low rates of immunoglobulin synthesis. Normally about 6 years are required before various immune parameters are well established. At least theoretically, because of the immaturity of the immune system in infancy and early childhood, the child’s genetics during these early ages would be more vulnerable to injury. *see addendum re: breastmilk immunity.
  6. Although final proof is as yet lacking, there is much indirect evidence that vaccines may be skewing the human immune system away from cellular immune system, which is normally dominant in health, towards the weaker humoral system, which is associated with allergies and autoimmunity as well as increased vulnerability to viral and fungal infections. This conclusion can hardly be escaped because most if not all childhood vaccines in current use are injected directly into the body and are directed at stimulating antibody production in the bone marrow. Bypassing the mucous membranes of the body as they do, the cellular immune system remains weak and relatively stunted due to lack of stimulation. As previously noted, once the humoral system attains dominance, as demonstrated in the following study, this dominance tends to be self-perpetuating.

Each of the two systems has identifying markers called cytokines (peptides which act as messengers), and this is how they are identified. A study by Sudhir Gupta of 20 autistic children, a condition thought by growing numbers of parents and physicians to be largely vaccine-related, showed consistent elevations of humoral cytokines and lowering of cellular cytokines.(12) Consequently, if vaccines are skewing infants’ immune systems by inducing a humoral-dominant system at a highly vulnerable time of life, they could be creating double-jeopardy from the standpoint of genetic mutations.

Stealth Viruses and the Work of John Martin, MD, PhD

A stealth virus is one that can establish a persistent infection in people over a period of years, while at the same time escaping detection by the human immune system because of its genetic fragmentation and polyglot mixture of genetic elements. The story begins years ago when Dr. Martin was serving as director of the viral oncology branch within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when he found foreign DNA in the oral polio vaccine being manufactured at the time. He later learned that a Simian (monkey) cytomegalic virus (CMV) had been found in all of the eleven African green monkeys imported for production of the polio vaccine.(13)

After leaving the FDA, Dr. Martin took a position as professor of pathology with the University of Southern California. There he tested blood samples from patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, autism, and other nervous system disorders. This work led to his discovery of unique cell-destroying viruses that were not recognized by the immune system. Termed “stealth viruses,” some of which he thought had clearly originated from the simian cytomegalic virus, these viruses were missing specific genes which, if expressed, would induce immune responses from the host. (14–18)

By way of explanation, the stealth virus, which, according to the work of Dr. Martin had its origins from a CMV contaminant of the oral polio vaccine, had become extremely fragile and unstable, possibly as a result of numerous serial passages through a variety of hosts in the commercial development of the vaccine. Being more unstable, it would theoretically be more prone to exchange nuclear material with its various hosts, in the end becoming somewhat like a genetic Rubik’s cube with a polyglot of nuclear material. This polyglot mixture remains unidentifiable to the immune system of the infected human host. Martin has reported on finding the stealth virus of Simian-CMV-origin in chronic fatigue (15) and in an autistic child.(18) The findings of chromosomal changes by Urnovitz in studies of veterans suffering from Persian Gulf War Syndrome (20) reported the findings of “many enteroviral-similar segments” in the abnormal chromosomes. It was also pointed out by Urnovitz that virtually all of the Gulf War veterans received the oral polio vaccine, the implication being that the polio vaccine with its CMV contaminant could have been a source of the enteroviral segments. (Polio is an enteric virus). Considering the possible consequences of these early findings of Dr. Martin, one wonders if there are plans for further investigation of these disturbing findings, or must this be left to future generations?

The Work of Howard B. Urnovitz and The Chronic Illness Foundation

Dr. Urnovitz and his colleagues have been studying the implications of vaccines in cancer, Persian Gulf War Syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS. Urnovitz, who holds doctorates in Immunology and Microbiology from the University of Michigan where he studied vaccines, has become one of the most vocal proponents for scientists to become aware of vaccine-associated genetic mutations.(19) His work in this area has supported the concepts that:

  1. Our bodies have a “genetic memory” of foreign substances it encounters, including vaccines.
  2. There is a limit on how much foreign material our bodies can handle before genetic damage occurs and/or progresses into a chronic illness.
  3. Each person has their own unique genetic blueprint which responds to foreign substances differently.

Although Urnovitz did not elaborate further on the subject of “genetic memory,” his reference to it can be interpreted as an inference that the genetic blueprints we inherit from our parents are influenced and potentially changed in adaptation to environmental exposures during our lifetimes.

Perhaps Urnovitz and colleagues are best known for the work they have published on the Gulf War Syndrome (GWS), where they found evidence of genetic alterations in Chromosome 22q11.2, a known genetic “hot spot” for mutations, which appear to have a role in the pathogenesis of GWS.(20) Even more striking is that when they sequenced their findings, many enteroviral-similar segments were found suggesting that this may have played a role in causing the changes in 22q11.2. As previously stated, most Gulf War veterans received the oral polio virus vaccine, an enterovirus, presumably along with its Simian CMV contaminant.

Also, in the introductory paragraph to the report, the authors included a list of chemicals to which the veterans had been exposed in the Gulf War, including low-level chemical warfare agents; investigational drugs (including pyridostigmine bromide), organophosphate, carbamate, and other pesticides and insect repellents; and toxic combustion products from oil well fires and diesel exhaust products. Although not specifically stated, the inclusion of this list clearly implies the authors’ opinion that toxic chemical exposures may also have played a causal role in the Gulf War Syndrome and its accompanying genetic changes.

To expand on this further, some of the genetic sequences were found to come from other, unidentified non-human sources. This raises the question of whether or not there was a connection between the work of Urnovitz and John Martin, (14–18) with genetic residues from the oral polio vaccines, the oral polio virus in turn having been cultured in monkey kidney tissues, and thus contributing to non-human segments described in the Urnovitz report.

The work of Urnovitz (9, 20–22) places a serious light on the implications of vaccines in bringing about genetic alterations. Our parents provide our genetic blueprints at birth, but this raw genetic material now appears to be malleable to environmental influences, including toxic chemicals and vaccines. Based on the foregoing information it is both possible and plausible that genetic translocations are taking place as a result of vaccines. Surely this is a credible cause for concern.

Immunogenetics

The genetics of our immune system are not well understood by scientists. However, there are many studies which pose serious implications. As one example, MG Montinari and colleagues investigated the relationship between post-vaccine central nervous system (CNS) diseases and human leukocyte antigens (HLA), which essentially strips the body’s brain and nerve tissues of their outer myelin coating.(23) By way of explanation, the HLA system is one which aids an individual’s immune system to differentiate that which is “self” from that which is “non-self.” Although the mechanisms are complex, it is a system which, during embryonic life, learns to recognize healthy or normal cells of the body as “self” so that these cells will remain unmolested by the search and destroy mechanisms of the immune system, leaving the latter free to protect the body from foreign invaders.

Of special concern is that the HLA system also carries an increased proneness to polymorphism (mutation), the mutations in turn possibly resulting in an impairment of self-recognition. This process may be the fundamental cause, or one of the primary causes of underlying autoimmune disorders in which the immune system attacks the cells within the body. The HLA system plays an integral part of this process.(24) When the alleles of the HLA system are mutated, as sometimes seen in viral infections, viral vaccines, or environmental illness from toxic chemicals, the body’s immunogenetic memory is altered. The presentation of an antigen to the immune system is important, and interference with this presentation may cause the body to mistake normal tissue, such as brain and nerve myelin, and thus attack its own tissues (autoimmunity).

Montinari found that certain alleles of HLA (A3 & DR7) were more frequent in patients with post vaccine-induced illness. This indicates an immunogenetic basis for such illnesses. What caused much concern was that Montinari implicated vaccine preservatives such as thimerosal as causing genetic mutations by modifying the amino acids in presenting antigen proteins, (25–29) which may be responsible for confusing the body into autoimmune reactions.

Further Concerns of Vaccine-Induced Genetic Mutation

Many of us are aware of The Human Genome Project which is an attempt to map out the entire chromosomal locations of human genes. It is important to note that a technique for the mapping of genes actually fuses human and rat cells in tissue cultures. These cells, called human-rodent somatic cells, actually have both rat and human chromosomes combined. This hybridization of human and non-human cells is done by placing both in a tissue culture and put through repeated cell-cycle passage, where human chromosomes are “lost.” This allows for scientists to mark certain protein-expressing genes to individual human chromosomes. (30)

Knowing that such hybridization occurs in laboratory processes and can be repeated, one must wonder if vaccines, which are contaminated and made with various human, animal, and non-human cells/DNA, can have the same effect in the human body.

Returning now to the subject of genetic contamination, and to the work of Anker and Stroun as well as to the human-rat cell fusion, we know that many vaccines use “immortal cell lines” which are actually cancerous types of cells with no limit on how many times they can divide. The most commonly known type of tissue used is of the human diploid variety extracted from aborted fetal tissue. It is possible that these cells could actually hybridize with our own. In fact, it is likely in light of what we know about human-rodent somatic cells. As well, there is concern that these cell lines are easily contaminated with pathogens and spread cancer (mutation-promoting) material to humans. (31–34)

Certain vaccines called “recombinant,” “sub-unit,” and “naked DNA” use methods of genetic engineering in their production. These techniques pose major concerns because of the unknown interaction of the vaccine and human proteins/DNA. The FDA actually acknowledges this concern where mutations take place through the activation of oncogenes or inactivation of tumor suppressor genes allowing cancers to thrive. Moreover they concede that free nucleic acids are easily taken up and integrated into a cell’s genome, thus potentially resulting in genetic mutations.(35, 36) A detailed and technical report which details the many cancerous and genetic consequences of vaccine contamination notes that each vaccine dose is allowed 100,000,000 allowable pieces of DNA, not including the DNA in the viral and viral-contaminated portions. We believe that any allowable piece of DNA is a risk.

Summation

In a Letter-to-the-Editor of Science Magazine, October, 1967, Joshua Lederberg, Department of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine, warned about live-virus vaccines: “In point of fact we (are practicing) biological engineering on a rather large scale by use of live viruses in mass immunization campaigns. . . . Crude virus preparations, such as some in common use at the present time, are also vulnerable to frightful mishaps of contamination and misidentification.” (38)

In a larger sense, the question about possible effects of vaccines in causing adverse genetic changes might be considered as the “black hole” of scientific knowledge. Even if it is taking place, do we have the technology to identify it, and if not, do we have the time to await the slow processes of science to prove such a relationship? Studies from Africa, England, Sweden, and New Zealand have consistently shown a greater incidence of allergic problems such as asthma and eczema, along with increasing patterns of sickness, among fully vaccinated children as compared to those with limited or no vaccines. (39–42) It seems inconceivable to us that health could be one thing and genetics another, or that these patterns of deteriorating health would not be accompanied by corresponding genetic changes.

In our view there is one fundamental issue with which we are confronted, and that is for parents to gain the right of free choice to accept or reject vaccines for their children based on informed consent.

Wherever one looks in the natural world one finds systems of checks and balances. It is the fundamental system on which the US Constitution was framed and intended to function. The same principle should apply with childhood vaccines. Only by this can things be set right.

Addendum — Breastfeeding: The Critical Immunological Bridge

By Edda West

The human infant’s vulnerability to infection hinges on whether or not he/she is breastfed. Breastfeeding adds the most essential and powerful immune dimension which protects the newborn and young baby from a myriad of infectious disease. Many years ago, medical researcher Dr. Alan Cunnigham, MD found that breastfed babies have a more than 12 fold reduced risk of infectious diseases, particularly the big killers which are respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases. (1)

New Zealand researcher, Hilary Butler has written extensively about the newborn immune system being skewed towards TH2, a necessity so that the mother’s body does not reject the fetus. After birth however, the baby’s immune system starts to shift to cell mediated TH1. THE MAJOR factor enabling this transition is breastfeeding, which provides the baby with a highly complex protective immunological ecology (2)

Therefore, although the infant is born with an immature and vulnerable immune system, breastfeeding provides the crucial immunological bridge insuring that the neonate has the following: a plentiful supply of cell mediating secretory IgA; tremendous amounts of macrophages, which engulf and destroy pathogens the infant may be exposed to; and a highly complex enzyme system that provides appropriate nutrients, and functions in multiple immune capacities. An example of this is lactoferrin, the remarkable iron-binding protein that insures iron remains unavailable to bacteria, hence minimizing risk of infection. (3)

Fundamentally, human milk insures continuing oral passive immunity as it lays down essential gut protection that prevents enteroviruses from taking hold. It also maintains gut impermiability so that antigens can’t seep through the gut wall triggering allergic mechanisms. Breastmilk is the most vital element by which immune strength and integrity is built. It sets the immune foundation for life!

While doctors pay lip service to the advantages of breastfeeding, little is done to teach parents the profound and far reaching immune benefits of it. If every mother could understand her body’s capacity to provide her baby with the means to build a strong and disease resistant immune foundation, one could venture to predict that the fear of this or that disease would be dispelled, along with the idea of the necessity of vaccinations.

Addendum References

  1. Dr. Alan Cunningham, Comparison of hospital admissions of breastfed & bottle-fed babies at The Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, Cooperstown, N.Y.- letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1980
  2. Hilary Butler, Position Paper on the Role of Vaccines in SIDS, February, 2000
  3. Derrick B. Jelliffe, MD, Human Milk in the Modern World, Oxford Medical Publications

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