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A doctor who claimed to have discovered a connection between a common childhood vaccine and the development of autism has been stripped of his license to practice medicine in his native Britain.

The General Medical Council took the disciplinary action against Andrew Wakefield earlier this week, after a lengthy investigation concluded that his research amounts to professional misconduct.

In 1998, Dr. Wakefield helped to fuel a parental backlash against vaccines by spearheading a study that linked the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination with the onset of symptoms associated with autism. The research was published in The Lancet, a prestigious British medical journal, adding to its credibility.

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But since then, one study after another has failed to find an association between vaccinations and autism. What's more, it's come to light that Dr. Wakefield was getting paid by lawyers mounting a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers on behalf of parents who believe their children were harmed by the shots. Earlier this year, The Lancet took the unusual step of formally retracting the paper.

Amid the controversy, Dr. Wakefield left Britain in 2004 and moved to Texas, where he started work as a researcher at an alternative medicine clinic.

Dr. Wakefield told the Associated Press he plans to appeal the loss of his British medical licence. On NBC's Today Show, he said the council's penalty is just "a little bump in the road" and reiterated his assertion that vaccines can lead to autism.

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