UTSW genetic study confirms sarin nerve gas as cause of Gulf War illness

From UTSouthwestern Medical Center: For Complete Post, Click Here…

ngd- Sarin is an organophosphate, and a lot of insecticides are organophosphates. If the genes that degrade sarin also degrade organophosphates in general, then I don’t see how the conclusion that sarin is responsible clearly is the case. I had a fair level of experience with malathion when I was in Vietnam and developed symptoms just like gulf-war syndrome, though they faded over time when I left country. I retain a sensitivity to it that triggers when I smell it after mosquito spraying…

For three decades, scientists have debated the underlying cause of Gulf War illness (GWI), a collection of unexplained and chronic symptoms affecting veterans of the Persian Gulf War. Now researchers led by Robert Haley, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Director of the Division of Epidemiology at UT Southwestern, have solved the mystery, showing through a detailed genetic study that the nerve gas sarin was largely responsible for the syndrome. The findings were published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed journal supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, with an accompanying editorial on the paper by leading environmental epidemiologists.

Dr. Haley’s research group not only discovered that veterans with exposure to sarin were more likely to develop GWI, but also found that the risk was modulated by a gene that normally allows some people’s bodies to better break down the nerve gas. Gulf War veterans with a weak variant of the gene who were exposed to sarin were more likely to develop symptoms of GWI than other exposed veterans who had the strong form of the gene.

“Quite simply, our findings prove that Gulf War illness was caused by sarin, which was released when we bombed Iraqi chemical weapons storage and production facilities,” said Dr. Haley, a medical epidemiologist who has been investigating GWI for 28 years. “There are still more than 100,000 Gulf War veterans who are not getting help for this illness and our hope is that these findings will accelerate the search for better treatment.”

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