The story of the returning veteran never ends. A researcher in Peoria is investigating Gulf War Syndrome, more than twenty years after that short-term conflict took place.
Steve Lasley, assistant head of cancer biology and pharmacology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, says it took years for people to shed their skepticism of the illness, marked by a “general malaise,”depression, aches and pains, etc.
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“It was difficult to see (the symptoms) as a unified and distinct syndrome … the Department of Defense didn’t recognize there was a problem there,” he says.
Anti-nerve gas drugs are now thought to be a cause of the syndrome, as are insect repellents given to the soldiers. Lasley says those products, combined with the stress of war, have apparently weakened their immune systems.
“At the very least, you want to understand what caused this disorder so we don’t repeat it in future situations,” says Lasley, who says the future of his research will include testing of anti-inflammatory drugs and consulting with scientists at the Centers for Disease Control, all with mice as opposed to people.