New Gulf War Research Presented to Advisory Committee

Of the 504,047 eligible for VA benefits, 149,094 (29%) are now considered
disabled by the VA eleven since the start of the Gulf War; and

- Another 13,902 claims against the VA still pending.

- More than 9,600 Gulf War veterans have died.

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New Gulf War Research Presented to Advisory Committee
Research studies challenge the conventional wisdom
Department of Veterans Affairs

WASHINGTON -- Research studies that challenge the conventional wisdom
regarding potential links between military service during the Gulf War and
the numerous, yet often undiagnosed, illnesses reported by many veterans
were presented recently to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Research
Advisory Committee for Gulf War Veterans Illnesses.

"I am very pleased with the progress of the committee and ongoing research
into the illnesses that continue to afflict the brave men and women who
served so well during the Gulf conflict," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Anthony J. Principi.

"They haven't given up on their search for answers and neither will we."

Presentations June 16 by the principal investigators of four completed
studies looked at the nervous system, cognitive function, use of
pyridostigmine bromide (a drug protecting people from nerve agents) and
exposure to pesticides and nerve gas.

Antonio Sastre, Ph.D., of Midwest Research Institute in Kansas City, Mo.,
presented, for the first time, results of his Defense Department-sponsored
study of autonomic nervous system function in Gulf War-era veterans. The
autonomic nervous system controls many of the body's functions (like
breathing) automatically, without any conscious effort. Using a battery of
tests to capture the complexities of the autonomic nervous system, Sastre's
findings indicate that ill veterans demonstrate autonomic system dysfunction
on a broad range of tests.

Results of a just-published VA-funded study by Roberta F. White, Ph.D., of
Boston University School of Medicine and the Boston VA Healthcare System
Medical Center indicated that Gulf War-deployed veterans performed
"significantly worse," on tests of attention, visuospatial skills, visual
memory and mood. Additionally, Gulf War- deployed veterans who used
pyridostigmine bromide performed worse than their deployed comrades who did
not use the drug.

John Vogel, Ph.D., of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California, discussed
the use of accelerator mass spectrometry to detect very low levels of
pesticides and their effect on the brain's increased absorption of a second
toxic exposure. The research, conducted with animals, was sponsored by the
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Likewise, undetected low-level exposure to sarin nerve gas can cause delayed
development of brain alterations that may be associated with memory loss and
cognitive dysfunction in animals. This study, by Rogene Henderson, Ph.D., of
Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, advances scientific
understanding of the long-term effects of exposure to chemical weapons.

"This new research has important implications, not only for ill veterans,
but for the development of medical defenses to protect future American
troops and civilians from chemical attack," said committee chairman James

The advisory committee was established by Secretary Principi to review
research and give advice on those areas showing the greatest promise for
finding the cause, or causes, of Gulf War illnesses and treating Gulf War

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