Health Watch

HealthWatch: Gulf War Illness Breakthrough

MIAMI, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The symptoms include severe fatigue, stomach problems and body aches just to name a few. One out of three soldiers who fought in Operation Desert Storm are affected. Now new research is aimed at bringing some relief. 
Jimmy Arocho is a Gulf War veteran. 
"I was seven months in the desert," said Arocho, Sergeant First Class (retired) in the United States Army.
Shortly after coming home, his health took a turn for the worse. 
Arocho continued, "Full body pain, muscle and joint pain." 
Nancy Klimas, MD, Director of the Gulf War Illness Program at Miami VA Hospital and Director of the Institute for Neuro Immune Medicine at Nova Southeastern University said ,"In 1990 and 91, we sent 800,000 U.S. Troops to the Middle East to fight in the first Gulf War." 
Dr. Klimas says those soldiers were exposed to multiple chemical toxins including organophosphate in their uniforms. 
Dr. Klimas said, "Out of 800,000 troops some 300,000 veterans are now ill 27 years later, so one in three came back ill and stayed that way." 
Dr. Klimas and her team at Nova Southeastern University and the Miami VA went to work to find a treatment for gulf war illness and the debilitating symptoms. They put study participants on bikes and measured their body's responses and found their systems were off balance.
"In this particular study we're using a biologic intervention," Dr. Klimas told Ivanhoe.
She says the goal is a healthy homeostasis, bringing the immune, endocrine and autonomic nervous systems back in balance. The study has moved to phase one in humans. Jimmy hopes this research will finally lead to some relief for his fellow soldiers.
"I really want to see an effective treatment across all of what is causing the gulf war illness," Arocho said.
Despite his own pain, Arocho travelled to Puerto Rico to help hurricane victims. Once a soldier always a civil servant.
Dr. Klimas believes a treatment for Gulf War illness will be available in about five years, most likely in the form of an injection. In addition to Nova, four other sites received federal funding for clinical trials on Gulf War illness including Boston University, the Bronx VA, the Palo Alto VA and the New Jersey VA. For more information please visit http://www.nova.edu/nim/index.html 
Contributors to this news report include: Janna Ross, Field Producer; Judy Reich, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGHS
RESEARCH SUMMARY

TOPIC:     GULF WAR ILLNESS BREAKTHROUGH
REPORT:    MB #4449

BACKGROUND: Certain illnesses are associated with Gulf War service in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations from August 2, 1990 to present. Medically unexplained illnesses are a significant concern for some veterans who served during the Gulf War. A prominent condition affecting Gulf War veterans is a cluster of medically unexplained chronic symptoms that can include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems. 
(Source: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/medically-unexplained-illness.asp) 

CAUSES: Nancy Klimas, MD, a professor at Nova in the Karin Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine, Director of the Institute Neuro Immune Medicine, Assistant Dean for research at the Osteopathic Medical School and Director of the Gulf War Illness Program at the Minor VA Hospital explained how 800,000 U.S. troops that were sent to the Middle East to fight in the first Gulf War were exposed to toxicity in the environment. Dr. Klimas said, "They were wearing pesticide impregnated uniforms which turned out to be very toxic and there were very toxic organophosphates. Whenever the SCUD missiles went over and the chemical alarms went off they had to jump into a chemical protection suit which caused them to sauna in their organophosphate. They were using DEET at a hundred percent which you can't buy even eight percent now." They were exposed to many other toxins such as depleted uranium through the armaments, and an untested anthrax vaccine.
(Source: Nancy Klimas, MD)
 
NEW TECHNOLOGY: Dr. Klimas and teams of researchers across the country believe they are close to having a treatment. Dr. Klimas said, "In this particular study we're using a biologic intervention that is a monoclonal that blocks tumor necrosis factor." It is still in phase 1 and has not gone through safety trials yet, but in the animal model "we bring the inflammation in the brain down using a biologic that blocks information and we bring it down by at least fifty percent. It was a short intervention, we gave them one dose of the biologic and we waited a week and gave them one dose of the blocking agent and it rebooted the system," Klimas stated.
(Source: Nancy Klimas, MD)

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS REPORT, PLEASE CONTACT:

Precious Leaks-Guiterrez, Community Outreach Coordinator
305-575-7648
vhamiagwi@va.gov 

Marla Oxenhandler, Media Relations NSU
954-770-9204
moxenhandler@nova.edu 

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know~to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com


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