GWS/I research sheds light on Chemical Sensivity

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by tansy, Oct 16, 2005.

  1. tansy

    tansy New Member

    Gulf War Research Sheds Light on Source of Chemical Sensitivities

    By Kevin Lamb

    Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, October 6, 2005

    The goal was to explain a serious medical condition affecting thousands
    of Gulf War veterans, whose symptoms have been dismissed and ridiculed
    for lack of understanding them.

    When they finished, researchers at Wright State University's medical
    school also shed important new light on another serious medical
    condition affecting millions of civilians whose symptoms have also been
    dismissed and ridiculed.

    Gulf War syndrome and multiple-chemical sensitivity both are a baffling
    and often debilitating collection of diverse symptoms.

    Both can leave people with cloudy thinking, unable to concentrate or

    Both can cause weakness, pain or numbness in the muscles and joints.

    Both can lead to headaches, dizziness, rashes, diarrhea or persistent

    And victims of both have specific biochemical peculiarities, it turns
    out. Those discoveries, by more than a dozen Ph.D.-level researchers
    over four years, will help identify those who have either affliction,
    explain why they have it and raise a realistic hope of finding ways to
    treat it.

    Everybody has enzymes that help break down small amounts of toxic
    chemicals and chase them harmlessly out of their bodies. Chemically
    sensitive people, who have significantly lower levels of those enzymes,
    can become seriously ill from mere traces of some commonplace chemicals.

    "We were able to clearly discriminate between normal and sensitive
    groups," said Gerald Alter, who did much of the enzyme research. Just
    by analyzing blood samples, colleague Steven Berberich said, he could
    tell a sensitive patient from someone else.

    "It doesn't necessarily take high levels of chemicals," said Daniel
    Organisciak, who chairs the department of biochemistry and molecular
    biology. "Not just the levels that we already knew might cause
    problems, but relatively low levels that might be in the environment
    all the time."

    That makes sense to Dr. Heather Morgan, who treats chemical sensitivity
    in her Centerville practice. Chemicals also could be causing genetic
    abnormalities that lead to the enzyme deficiency, she said.

    Follow-up research will try to tease out the roles of both inherited
    genes and environmental contacts, Berberich said. He hopes it will lead
    to a diagnostic test that could identify chemically sensitive people
    before their symptoms overwhelm them.

    "From a patient's standpoint, it's wonderful to have this validation,"
    said Jackie Barton of Centerville.

    "It's good that people understand this is a legitimate problem, and
    that when I ask people not to wear perfume, I'm not doing it just to be
    difficult or controlling. I have a very uncomfortable, sometimes
    long-term reaction to things like fragrances, paint, new carpeting,
    even the chemicals thrown off by fluorescent lights."

    The Department of Defense gave Wright State $7.2 million toward the
    cost of the study and the establishment of its Center for Genomics
    Research. With support from Rep. David Hobson, R-Springfield, and
    Springfield philanthropist Mary Petticrew, Organisciak said, the
    researchers explored the similarities between Gulf War veterans and the
    broader chemically sensitive population, which the National Academy of
    Sciences has estimated at up to 15 percent of Americans.

    Gulf War syndrome appears to be at least partly a heightened
    sensitivity to low doses of sarin, a chemical weapon known to damage
    the brain and nervous system in higher amounts. While it's impossible
    to trace directly to the estimated 80,000 veterans with symptoms,
    evidence indicates microscopic sarin exposure could be at least one of
    the causes.

    "We can't be so cavalier in terms of low-dose exposure," said Mariana
    Morris, who chairs the pharmacology and toxicology department. Although
    the damage from small amounts isn't easily measured, "that doesn't mean
    you're not having an effect."

    Alter's group specifically tested organo-phosphates and formaldehyde.
    They both "pervade modern homes and workplaces," he said, the former in
    insecticides and the latter in a vast array of synthetic products that
    include Perma-Press clothing, construction pressboard and carpeting.

    "We live in a toxic soup, let's face it," Morgan said.

    "We've been eating pesticides and herbicides laced into our foods,
    albeit in very low concentrations, since the late 1940s. It's a huge
    chemical experiment that needs to be looked at, as to why we're seeing
    so much more chemical sensitivity over the last 25 years."[This Message was Edited on 10/16/2005]
  2. Jen102

    Jen102 New Member

    i wish it were more informative--what enzymes in particular? I am going to try to learn more about what they found. I am extremely chemically sensitive myself so that it is very difficult to be around others or leave the house. Thanks for the article. Jen
  3. tansy

    tansy New Member

    will come to light soon. Below is the Wright State University's press release

    love, Tansy

    Wright State Research Reveals Impact of Low-Dose
    Toxins in Gulf War Syndrome
    Dayton, Ohio

    Teams of researchers at Wright State University School of Medicine who have been studying the subtle effects of chemicals suspected of causing Gulf War Syndrome have found that some of these chemicals do have subtle effects on the brain and cardiovascular system. They also have identified biomarkers for both Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and low-level exposure to the nerve agent sarin.

    Gulf War veterans have complained of a variety of symptoms including headaches, joint pain, fatigue, diarrhea, skin rashes, and dizziness. Evidence led researchers to suspect that these veterans might have suffered neurological damage from some combinations of stress, exposures to non-lethal doses of the nerve agent sarin, pyridostigmine bromide (PB)(a medication used to protect against nerve gas), and/or the insect repellent DEET.

    Wright State’s investigations into these synergistic effects were directed by Mariana Morris, Ph.D., chair and professor of pharmacology and toxicology, and Daniel Organisciak, Ph.D., chair and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. Team members ranged from cellular toxicologists to clinical scientists. Using cutting-edge research tools, including gene array technology and high-tech imaging facilities, these scientists looked at how stressful conditions in combination with low-level chemical exposures could damage the body’s systems in ways that had previously eluded diagnosis.

    The teams looked at animal and human samples for genetic and biochemical differences caused by repeated exposures to low levels of the chemicals, and studied how stress modifies the response to toxic chemicals including the nerve agent sarin. “Low levels of chemicals, including formaldehyde and various insecticides, pervade modern homes and work places,” explains Gerald Alter, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. “Though the toxic agents do not bother most people at normal, low concentrations, some individuals have clear adverse reactions.

    We examined the activity of enzymes in both chemically sensitive and normal control populations, using a double blind protocol. We found that chemically sensitive individuals generally have lower activity levels than control groups. We were able to clearly discriminate between normal and formaldehyde-sensitive groups and between normal and organophosphate-sensitive groups. This information may be useful to help identify or confirm the diagnosis of chemical sensitivity.

    Using integrated models, Dr. Morris and her team monitored blood pressure, heart rate and behavior in rodents with follow ups into the neurochemical and genetic analysis of the systems. Early published experiments show that stress sensitized the rodent to chemical exposure, and recent data demonstrates that exposure to a low dose of sarin—one which produces no detectable physiological changes—does produce long term effects on brain and cardiovascular functions.

    The team also was able to show that there are acute effects of both PB and sarin on activity in the hypothalamic region of the brain, but not in the cortex. “This is significant because it suggests mechanisms for toxicity as well as treatment in cases of nerve agent exposure,” explains David Cool, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology.

    The research was funded in part by a $7.2 million grant from the Department of Defense, which enabled Wright State University to establish the Center for Genomics Research (CGR).

    Collaborators in this research effort included the Tri-Services Toxicology Unit at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Wright State’s Departments of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Community Health, and Emergency Medicine. The project received the strong support of U.S. Representative David Hobson, and local philanthropist Mrs. Mary Petticrew, who saw the potential for this type of research and for linking Wright State University to national research programs through the Defense Department.
  4. tansy

    tansy New Member

    The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded Wright State University School of Medicine a $7.2 million contract to study the enigmatic medical problem known as Gulf War Syndrome.

    Wright State researchers, under the direction of Mariana Morris, Ph.D., chair of pharmacology and toxicology, and Daniel Organisciak, Ph.D., chair of biochemistry and molecular biology, will investigate how stressful conditions combined with low-level chemical exposure may damage the body's systems in subtle ways that have eluded diagnosis. The researchers also want to determine whether chemical sensitization in military and civilian populations to toxins could result from genetic inheritance.

    The $7.2 million contract from the Department of Defense forms the cornerstone for a toxicology institute devoted to better understanding the basis of toxicity and to address medical problems involving both military and civilian populations. This grant will study behavioral and chemical interactions to evaluate the effect of environmental stress on the body's response to low levels of chemical exposure.

    The grant will bring approximately 20 scientists together from a variety of disciplines and training--from the cellular toxicologist to the clinical scientist--and reflects the unique research environment in the Dayton area. The institute will support the collaborative interactions of scientists and clinicians from the school's:

    Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    Department of Emergency Medicine
    Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
    Lifespan Health Research Center, in the Department of Community Health
    Despite numerous research studies conducted since the war's end in 1991, Gulf War syndrome's cause remains unknown.

    The first phase of the Wright State study will examine the effects of stress and low-level exposure to the drug pyridostigmine bromide, or PB. The drug was given to as many as 300,000 American troops sent to the Gulf War as a preventive measure against the effects of nerve gas. A study released by the Pentagon in October 1999 suggested that exposure to PB might be part of the cause of Gulf War Syndrome.

    A later phase of the Wright State research will study the effects of stress and low-level exposure to chemical warfare agents. Researchers will work with extremely small quantities of a low-concentration chemicals in a laboratory that meets DOD safety and security requirements. Research-dilute solutions of the chemicals are limited to 1/5,000th of the concentration, which might be encountered on the battlefield. Chemicals being tested act on chemical transmitter systems in the body to inhibit breathing, muscle contractions and heart rate. It is proposed that stress may alter the body's ability to respond to the chemicals, in effect increasing their doses.

    Several cutting-edge research tools will be applied to the studies. Gene array technology will allow the researchers to analyze genetic factors associated with low-level chemical sensitization and toxicity. The gene array system increases the speed and accuracy of genetic studies by automating routine procedures and by simultaneously monitoring numerous genes. A state-of-the-art imaging facility will be used to determine the location of damage within cells.

    Additional partners in the project include the Tri-Services Toxicology Unit at Wright-Patterson AFB and the Dayton VA Medical Center.

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