(Washington, DC -- 91outcomes.com) Medical research presentations at today's public meeting of the Congressionally-chartered Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC-GWVI) added several new characteristics to the growing body of scientific knowledge related to Gulf War Illness (GWI) and suggested potential treatments for GWI.
A November 2008 report by the RAC found sufficient scientific evidence to conclude that the condition is "real", something argued for years by ill Gulf War veterans. In April 2009, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), part of the National Academy of Sciences, further determined that GWI is a unique diagnostic entity and that if affects one quarter-million veterans -- or about one in every three -- of the 1991 Gulf War.
Three researchers presented their recent findings at today's public RAC meeting in Washington, DC, including Dr. Mian Li, Dr. Jim Baraniuk, and Dr. Julia Golier.
Dr. Mian Li: Autonomic Nervous System Abnormalities in Ill Gulf War Veterans
Dr. Mian Li, a neurologist at the Washington, DC VA Medical Center presented his initial findings from a study involving neurological examination of veterans that used more sensitive neurological testing than is most often used. His research found subtle but objective, measurable impaired autonomic nervous system abnormalities in ill Gulf War veterans.
From his research, Dr. Li concluded that self-reported unexplained neurological symptoms can be confirmed on a battery of objective autonomic testing in selected Gulf War veterans. He also concluded that objective parameters on autonomic testing may be useful in guiding the treatment of selected multi-symptom illnesses in an appropriate clinical context. Dr. Li explained that he is interested in pursuing a treatment study for potential treatments for the identified autonomic nervous system abnormalities.
During the course of this study, which also included use of the Compound Autonomic Severity Scales (CASS) and the Quantitative Sudomotor Axonal Reflex Test (QSART) in developing an overall autoimmune and neurological profile, he diagnosed several ill veterans (but no control group veterans) with Small Fiber Neuropathy and Large Fiber Neuropathy -- conditions for which FDA-approved treatments already exist.
Several veterans in both the GWI group (n=5) and the control group (n=3) were diagnosed or Focal Neuropathies (FN), a relatively common condition for veterans that results from injury to a peripheral nerve.
Dr. Julia Golier: HPA Axis Dysregulation in Ill Gulf War Veterans
Dr. Julie Golier, a medical practitioner and researcher at the Bronx VA Medical Center in New York City, presented some of her most recent findings, including dysregulation of the Hypothalamus-Pituitary Gland-Adrenal Gland (HPA) axis in ill Gulf War veterans.
She also noted that this unique HPA axis dysregulation "profile" does not appear to have been identified in any other known medical condition, potentially adding further evidence of unique characteristics of GWI.
Dr. Golier reported that her research findings are consistent with existing animal models of the role of neurotoxicity toxicity secondary to environmental exposures (such as Pyridostigmine Bromide (PB)).
She also provided an update related to three other CDMRP-funded studies related to her findings that she is conducting. These include a treatment trial of mifepristone, funded in FY06 and nearing its conclusion and should help identify whether this is a good candidate for GWI treatment. Another, funded by CDMRP in FY10, is the relationship of this HPA axis dysregulation to metabolic disorder in Gulf War veterans.
Dr. Golier told the audience she just learned "an hour before" her presentation that her proposed clinical trial of intranasal insulin ill Gulf War veterans has been approved for FY11 CDMRP funding. The use of both intranasal insulin and mifepristone are thought to have treatment potential for ill Gulf War veterans with dysregulated HPA axis functioning.
Dr. Golier first became interested in GWI issues after discovering unique differences in Gulf War veterans with PTSD as compared to other war veterans with PTSD.
Dr. Jim Baraniuk - Cerebrospinal Fluid Findings in Gulf War Illness
Dr. Jim Baraniuk, a practicing allergist and researcher at Georgetown University, has found evidence in his research related to exercise and findings in cerebrospinal fluid that suggest possible subgroups within the broader population of patients suffering from GWI, including one that meets diagnostic criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
One of Dr. Baraniuk's additional finding has been that GWI study subjects were at much greater risk for headaches following lumbar puncture ("spinal tap").
Another finding suggested that ill veterans may experience more more “freeze” than “flight or flight” responses.
Dr. Baraniuk, M.D. first became involved in GWI research when during the course of his clinical work at Georgetown University Medical Center he found that Gulf War Veterans diagnosed with allergic rhinitis sent to him by CFS expert Dr. Dan Klauw in actuality suffered from neurologic non-allergic rhinitis.