Gulf War veterans sought for medical trials

WASHINGTON, January 18, 2000 (GulfLINK) - The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue to recruit participants until April 2000 for two medical treatment trials which began last spring. Researchers hope the studies will advance current understanding of the illnesses affecting some veterans and explore possible treatment options.

"We have had a universally good veteran turn-out for these studies, said Army Lt. Col. Charles Engel, M.D., chief, deployment health clinical center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. "We are on track, but we are still actively seeking Gulf War veterans who are concerned about their health."

The two treatment trials, EBT for Exercise-Behavioral Therapy and the Antibiotic Treatment Trial, are being conducted at 36 different Veterans Affairs and DoD medical facilities nationwide. The EBT study examines whether aerobic exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy will improve the life for ill Gulf War veterans. The Antibiotic Treatment Trial tests the theory that ill Gulf War veterans who test positive for an organism called Mycoplasma fermentans incognitus will feel better after receiving antibiotic treatment with doxcycline.

The response from veterans has been geographically broad-based. Engel said he is pleased that veterans are volunteering from around the country, often after receiving mailings from participating sites or attending local DoD and VA-sponsored meetings.

"Through these programs we've been able to reach out to veterans and make them aware of issues impacting the health of Gulf War veterans," he said.

To be eligible for either study, veterans must have served in the Gulf War between August 1990 and August 1991 and currently have at least two of three unexplained symptoms - debilitating fatigue, joint and muscle pain, or memory and thinking problems. The symptoms must have been present for more than six months.

More than 1,300 volunteers are being recruited for the EBT study where the focus is rehabilitative rather than curative. This study will use methods proven to improve the lives of people with a variety of illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and even multiple sclerosis. The study seeks to improve a person's capacity to cope with functional challenges and symptoms, Engel said. After seven months, more than 1,200 veterans have been screened, 350 people have been selected and the numbers are climbing.

Engel explained that a pattern has surfaced among potential volunteers that has made the target numbers for the exercise-behavioral therapy trial slower to achieve. Interested volunteers often prefer the option of medical treatment and choose to participate in the antibiotic study.

Engel said he is confident that both studies will achieve the needed participation even though it has been harder to enroll patients in the EBT than the antibiotic treatment trial.

"Whatever we learn from the studies, the results will significantly inform the medical community on how to help Gulf War veterans," Engel said.

Both treatment trials promise to increase the medical community's understanding of chronic multi-symptom illnesses. The void in medical knowledge for these conditions has often led veterans to become dissatisfied with medical practitioners' inability to prescribe curative treatment, Engel said.

The trials have another benefit.

"It exemplifies the spirit of veterans helping veterans," Engel said.

Treatment Trials Participating Sites

Exercise & Cognitive Behavioral Therapy "EBT"

VA Medical Centers

Albuquerque, N.M.------------(505) 265-1711 x 2587

Birmingham, Ala.---------------(205) 933-8101 x 5550

Boston, Mass. -----------------(617) 232-9500

Brooklyn, N.Y.-----------------(718)636-6600 x 6588

Burlington, Vt.------------------(802) 864-4492 x 19

Dayton, Ohio.------------------(937) 268-6511 x 1212

East Orange, N.J.--------------(800) 248-8005

Fargo, N.D.--------------------(701) 239-3700 x 3024

Houston, Texas.----------------(713) 791-1414 x 5030

Philadelphia, Pa.----------------(215) 823-5952

Portland, Ore.------------------(503) 220-8262 x 57338

Richmond, Va.-----------------(804) 675-5000 x 3038

St. Louis, Mo.------------------(314) 289-6554

San Antonio, Texas.------------(210) 617-5300 x 4061

San Francisco, Calif.-----------(415) 221-4810 x 2287

San Juan, PR.------------------(787) 758-7575 x 11179

Seattle, Wash.-----------------(206) 764-2795

West Haven, Conn.------------(203) 932-5711 x 3990

White River Junction, Vt.-------(802) 295-9363 x 5562


Antibiotic Therapy "ABT"

VA Medical Centers

Albany, N.Y.-----------------(518) 462-3311 x 3080

Albuquerque, N.M.----------(505) 265-1711 x 2396

Augusta Ga.------------------(706) 733-0188 x 2305

Birmingham, Ala.-------------(205) 933-8101 x 5550

Boston, Mass.----------------(617) 232-9500 x 4340

Bronx, N.Y.------------------(800) 877-6976

Brooklyn, N.Y.---------------(718) 630 2875

Charleston, S.C.--------------(843) 577-5011 x 7376

Dayton, Ohio-----------------(937) 268-6511 x 1212

Durham, N.C.----------------(919) 286-6950

East Orange, N.J.------------(973) 676-1000 x 2157

Fargo, N.D.------------------(701) 239-3700 x 3024

Hines, Ill.---------------------(708) 202-8387 x 24509

Houston, Texas---------------(791) 794-766

Manchester, N.H.-------------(603) 624-4366 x 6898

Milwaukee, Wis.--------------(414) 384-2000 x 1958

Montgomery, Ala.-------------(334) 272-4670 x 4466

Nashville, Tenn.---------------(615) 327-4751 x 7925

New Orleans, La.-------------(504) 568-0811 x 5490

Oklahoma City, Okla.---------(405) 270-0501 x 5201

Omaha, Neb.------------------(402) 977-5632

Providence, R.I.---------------(401) 457-3045 x 3460

Richmond, Va.----------------(804) 675-5000 x 3038

Salt Lake City, Utah----------(801) 582- 1565 x 1466

San Francisco, Calif.----------(415) 221-4810 x 2287

San Juan, PR------------------(787) 641-7582 x 13131

White River Junction, Vt.------(802) 295-9363 x 6054



DoD Medical Centers

Naval Health Research Center

San Diego, Calif.-------------(619) 524-0069

Walter Reed Army Medical Center

Washington, D.C.------------(202) 782-3473