Thursday, February 9, 2012

CDMRP Research Highlight: Dr. Abou Donia and GWI Cognitive Treatments

From the CDMRP website:  http://cdmrp.army.mil/gwirp/highlights.shtml#3_11


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Treatment of Memory Impairment and Sensorimotor Deficits in an Animal Model for the Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses
Posted November 17, 2011
Dr. Mohamed B. Abou Donia

Dr. Mohamed B. Abou DoniaRoughly one-fourth of the almost 700,000 veterans of the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War report health issues including widespread pain, chronic fatigue, and memory and cognitive deficits, now characterized as Gulf War Illness (GWI). Research has shown that these health issues may have been caused by exposures to pesticides and insect repellents, as well as anti-nerve gas medication, experienced during Gulf War deployment. Dr. Mohamed Abou Donia at Duke University developed a rat model of Gulf War (GW) exposures that uses topical treatment of permethrin (insecticide) and DEET (insect repellent) to simulate chronic GWI symptoms. Dr. Abou Donia is using a Fiscal Year 2008 Gulf War Illness Research Program Investigator-Initiated Research Award to systematically study the potential benefits of the analgesic Flupirtine to treat GWI using this rat model. Flupirtine has been used to treat pain and memory deficits associated with other disorders and has been shown to be safe and non-addictive, though it is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In the study, rats in the GW model, either Flupirtine-treated or untreated, are compared with Flupirtine-treated and untreated normal controls for performance in a water maze test. Rats are timed as they try to find a hidden platform in a water tank from different starting points. Reduced swimming times indicate spatial learning and memory. The water maze test also gauges sensorimotor parameters such as reflexes, motor strength, and coordination. In addition, researchers learn about cognition from observing the rats' probing activity during these tests. The study is currently underway, and data will be collected over the next 3 years. Dr. Abou Donia's GW exposures model has effectively reproduced GWI symptoms, as the rats developed alterations in memory and neuropathology. The effects of Flupirtine will be analyzed after all water maze and histopathological tests have been completed. If successful, this research would provide proof of concept that could ultimately lead to FDA approval of Flupirtine for the treatment of GWI.

1 comment:

Peter Greene said...

I hope this drug trial is beneficial. When its time for clinical trials on humans please let me know where to sign up!!