Researchers at Stanford Retract Narcolepsy Study Linked to GSK’s Swine Flu Vaccine

Stanford University researchers have retracted a major study that sought to explain why some abruptly fell asleep after receiving Pandemrix vaccine

Researchers at the University of Stanford School of Medicine have retracted a study they published last year which endeavoured to explain why some people were falling asleep after receiving a GSK Swine Flu vaccine called Pandemrix. The researchers behind the study retracted it as they could not reproduce its key findings.

Although the study has been retracted, it does not mean that the link between being administered the vaccine and narcolepsy is completely disproven.

The proposed link was based on the concept of molecular mimicry, whereby a protein in the H1N1 virus (and hence its vaccine) is of a similar structure to hypocretin, a hormone found in the human brain which is involved in maintaining wakefulness. The suggestion in the paper was that immune B cells that were produced in response to the vaccine were degrading the neurons in the brain that produced hypocretin, as it resembled the structurally similar swine flu protein.

Since the results of the study were not reproducible, its credibility was brought into question and the researchers though it best retract the study. Since the study was published, GSK has retracted the vaccine from the marker and it is no longer manufactured.

View the official retraction here: Retraction of the Research Article: “CD4+ T cell autoimmunity to hypocretin/orexin and cross-reactivity to a 2009 H1N1 influenza A epitope in narcolepsy”

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