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Researchers probe geographical ties to ALS cases among 1991 Gulf War veterans
Date:7/21/2008

her ALS rates its 2003 study found.

"As one of the largest contemporary set of cases, it presents a real opportunity to identify clues as to the cause of ALS not only for veterans of the first Gulf War but, perhaps, for ALS generally," Horner said. UC researchers are coordinating their investigations with those of researchers at the Durham, N.C. Veterans Medical Center and nearby Duke Medical Center.

Another UC-led study, published in the July 2008 issue of the journal Neuroepidemiology, found that the risk for developing ALS has now decreased among 1991 Gulf War vets. That suggests that the cause or causes of the ALS had something to do with their deployment in the region between August 1990 and July 1991.

Of the 135 cases diagnosed among the vets within 11 years after the war, only three had a family history of the disease. The small numbers might indicate that there is an environmental cause for ALS, the authors added.

"In the one-year period of military operations, some deployed military personnel experienced numerous exposures to multiple, potentially neurotoxic agents," Miranda and coauthors wrote in the new report. "If the array of possible candidate environmental exposures could be reduced, it may be possible to identify or at least focus inquiry on specific potential causative agents."

To narrow down the possibilities, Miranda and fellow investigators used GIS analysis, which allows researchers to layer different kinds of information onto maps to deduce potential risks.

They began by searching Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense records as well as other sources to identify military personnel diagnosed with ALS after 1991. Department of Defense data also allowed the researchers to identify the military units these veterans with ALS served in during their deployment to the Persian Gulf region.

In a separate analysis, the researchers identified troop units known to have been ex
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Contact: Monte Basgall
monte.basgall@duke.edu
919-681-8057
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

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