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Gulf War Syndrome

Volume 461: debated on Monday 4 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on Gulf war syndrome and its effects on Gulf war veterans; and if he will make a statement. (137774)

We are open to undertaking new research where, in the opinion of the independent experts at the Medical Research Council (MRC), it is justified. A research proposal to develop and prove rehabilitative therapies designed to improve the long-term health of Gulf veterans with persistent symptoms is with the MRC for initial assessment. In addition, we are working with the MRC on the possibility of research into paraoxanase—the enzyme involved in metabolising organophosphates. If work in either area produces a viable proposal which the MRC considers would have merit then we will fund this.

There are many research studies into the illnesses affecting veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf conflict; most of these are published in scientific or medical journals to allow peer-review and they are usually available on the world wide web. We monitor research undertaken in the UK and by other countries, in particular the United States where we have a British liaison officer based permanently in Washington DC; he is tasked both with ensuring that the UK has full visibility of US research into Gulf veterans illnesses and with providing a channel for communicating our own work to interested US parties.