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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

South Carolina: Researchers Find Solution to Gulf War Illness in FDA-approved Antiviral Drugs

Scientists led by environmental health sciences associate professor Dr. Saurabh Chatterjee, at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, have shown that adjusting gastrointestinal (GI) tract viruses by repurposing existing FDA-approved antiviral drugs offers a route for effective treatment for Gulf War Illness (GWI) and its myriad of symptoms. Their findings were published in the journal, Viruses.

Dr. Chatterjee’s team has already demonstrated that chemical exposure from the Gulf War alters the balance between the viruses and bacteria that naturally occur in the human GI tract. This imbalance results in Gulf War Illness, which includes a variety of symptoms (e.g., gastrointestinal disturbances, chronic fatigue, widespread pain, chronic headaches, respiratory/sleep problems and neurological problems in memory and learning) and has plagued more than 200,000 Persian Gulf veterans over the past three decades.

“Our own viruses interact with bacteria in the gut to maintain a healthy body and mind,” says Dr. Chatterjee, who led the study in his Environmental Health & Disease Laboratory at UofSC’s Arnold School of Public Health. “If we can tweak our own host viruses and their interactions with gut bacteria, then we can treat the disease symptoms of Gulf War Illness. With our most recent research, we have shown that antiviral drugs that are already in use can be a great starting point for curing the disease and helping thousands of veterans improve their quality of life.”

Previous research has already established the link between military deployment during the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War and numerous chronic health symptoms and disorders. Today, GWI affects 25-33 percent of the 700,000 United States veterans who served in the first Gulf War.

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