asked Her Majesty's Government:
Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 16 October (WA 174), what reviews of research into Gulf War illnesses funded by the Government of the United States have been undertaken by the Medical Research Council since 2003; when the review conducted in 2003 was completed; who were the scientists involved in the review; and what steps were taken to inform British Gulf veterans with Gulf War illnesses and families of those veterans who have died since the conflict of the review and its outcome; and [HL7839]
Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 16 October (WA 174), what destinations were involved in the travel costs incurred by those engaged in the Medical Research Council's review of research funded by the Government of the United States into Gulf War illnesses; on what dates the costs were incurred; and by whom; and [HL7808]
What assessment has been made by the Medical Research Council of the research conducted at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in the United States into alterations in cholinergic receptors, cytokines, glucorticoids and immunity following low level exposure to cholinergic agents and their possible relevance to illnesses amongst British Gulf War veterans; and [HL7809]
What consultation took place between the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Gulf War Veterans and Families Association before the MRC undertook its review of the findings of the research into Gulf War illnesses funded by the Government of the United States.[HL7810]
In January 2003, the Medical Research Council (MRC), through the Military Health Research Advisory Group (MHRAG), undertook a comprehensive review of relevant Gulf research. On 27 January, MHRAG held a private meeting with a number of scientists from the UK and overseas and then met separately on 28 January to apprise the MRC of scientific progress, of the potential for gaining further knowledge and of research needs, and of what the likely medical issues might be. The report, MRC Review of Research into UK Gulf Veterans' Illnesses, was published in May 2003 and is currently available on the MRC website1. The membership of the MHRAG was as follows:
Professor Catherine Peckham (chair): Institute of Child Health, London
Professor Bryn Bridges: Genome Damage & Stability Centre, Sussex
Professor David Coggon: MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit, Southampton
Professor Dudley Goodhead: MRC Radiation & Genome Stability Unit, Harwell
Professor George Griffin: St George's Hospital Medical School, London
Professor Pierluigi Nicotera: MRC Toxicology Unit, Leicester
Professor George Davey-Smith: University of Bristol, Bristol
Professor Nick Tarrier: Manchester University (Withington Hospital), Manchester
Professor Andrew McMichael: MRC Human Immunology Unit, Oxford
Dr Frances Murphy (observer): Department of Veterans' Affairs Washington, USA
Mr Nick Blatchley (observer): MoD Gulf Veterans' Illnesses Unit, London
The review was conducted in London and, in addition to the expenses incurred by members of the MHRAG, the travel expenses of individuals invited to the private meeting were also supported. These included: 11 participants from the UK (Aberdeen (1), Bristol (1), Cambridge (1), Cardiff (1), Glasgow (1), Leicester (2), Liverpool (1), London (14), Manchester (1), Oxford (1) and Porton Down (1)); two from France (Bordeaux (1) and Strasbourg (1)); three from Canada (Alberta (1) and Ottawa (2)); and five from the United States (Iowa City (1) and Washington DC (4)).
The MRC did not consult directly with the Gulf War Veterans and Families Association before undertaking the review. A representative from the Royal British Legion attended the private meeting on 27 January 2003 and all relevant information on the review has been made available on the MRC website. Following the review, the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which is the lead government department on Gulf veterans’ illnesses issues, wrote to veterans organisations to report on the outcome.
The 2003 review did not include an assessment of published or emerging research at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in the United States.
One of the recommendations of the 2003 review was that the MoD should replicate US neuroimaging studies in the United Kingdom. A further review of this recommendation was conducted in January 2005 and it was concluded that this area of work should not be taken forward at this time. At present, the MRC has not conducted subsequent strategic reviews of more recent research findings.