Researchers Are Looking For Veterans With Gulf War Illness

A three year, $1.1 million study is getting a one-year extension. Researchers say the study, aimed at helping veterans of the Gulf War, was scheduled to end this year.

Over three years, 40 Gulf War veterans have participated in the study at the Brody School of Medicine.

Toxicologist Dr. William Meggs says they are focused on one thing. That's finding a solution to the Gulf War illness, which is believed to be related to toxic exposure in the war zone.

Dr. Meggs says, "There was widespread exposure to low levels of a very potent neurotoxins, and this really is a neurological disease."

After the 1991 Gulf War, about 250,000 American troops returned home with a chronic illness.

More than 20 years later, Dr. Meggs says the veterans still suffer from irritability, as well as thinking, concentrating, and memory loss.

"There is no effective treatment," says Dr. Meggs. "A number of therapies have been tried. Of the veterans we've seen, some of them have given up on taking medications for the illness. Others take as many as 19 medications to treat the number of different symptoms they have."

Dr. Meggs says there are two parts to the study. First, to find an effective treatment. Second, to find a way to test for the Gulf War illness.

Dr. Meggs believes they owe it to the veterans to find a solution to their problems.

The study, which was set to end in 2014, is funded by the Department of Defense. Dr. Meggs says they're relieved to continue the research for one more year.

While researchers haven't found a cure, Dr. Meggs says they have had some success and are optimistic they will have more.