The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded an $8.5 million grant to an Nova Southeastern University (NSU) research team led by Nancy Klimas, M.D., for establishment of National Clinical Trials and Interventions Consortium. The Gulf War Illness Clinical Trials and Interventions Consortium (GWICTIC) will serve as a mechanism for clinical trials based on several years of research and clinical expertise, furthering the understanding and treatment of Gulf War Illness.
This award follows a similarly focused grant awarded to the NSU team in 2013 that helped initiate a major study on the condition. Principal Investigator Dr. Klimas, director of the Institute for Neuro Immune Medicine (INIM), professor of medicine in NSU’s Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine, is one of the foremost researchers in the United States on Gulf War Illness (GWI).
This condition affects veterans and civilians who were exposed to a number of dangers, including chemical weapons, during the 1991 Gulf War. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses, at least a quarter of the nearly 700,000 soldiers who fought in the Gulf War suffer from GWI.
“Grant funding of this caliber enables NSU to conduct research that not only advances human knowledge, but makes a real difference for mankind,” said Dr. George L. Hanbury, president and CEO. “We are very proud to know that the research being conducted by Dr. Klimas and her team has the potential of greatly improving the lives of these dedicated U.S. veterans.”
Patients suffering from GWI exhibit a myriad of symptoms that vary among patients and include tiredness, headaches, stomach issues, and loss of memory and reasoning. These symptoms may be of sufficient severity that they interfere with daily functioning and quality of life. Other symptoms include muscle pain, respiratory problems and skin conditions.
“We’ve established that Gulf War Illness is caused by a disruption in normal cell signaling that results in these disabling symptoms,” explained Dr. Klimas. “This is primarily due to disruptions in normal immune, cardiovascular, and hormone signaling.”
Over the last four years, Dr. Klimas and her research team — as well as the other research team through their respective, previously funded GWI Consortia (GWIC) — have identified disease markers that include, but are not limited to, energy production, immune function and inflammation.
“Our research results to date suggest that treatment will rely on combination approaches that have synergistic effects and/or single drugs with multiple mechanisms of action,” explained Dr. Klimas. “In addition, due to the myriad of symptoms tied to GWI that vary among patients, treatments may be effective only for particular subsets of patients, which is why our clinical trials focus on similar targets of disease activity from different, well thought-out and validated approaches.”
Dr. Klimas hopes to quickly deliver treatments to patients suffering from this debilitating illness. She concluded, “Based on our early experiences with combination synergistic approaches, as well as single drugs with multiple mechanisms of action, we truly believe that the targets in this proposal will help to improve energy production, restore immune function and reduce inflammation.”
NSU investigators working with Dr. Klimas include: Alison Bested, M.D.; Mary Ann Fletcher, Ph.D.; Maria Abreau, Ph.D.; Travis Craddock, Ph.D.; and Amanpreet Cheema, Ph.D. In addition, Gordon Broderick, Ph.D., Rochester Regional Health and formerly from NSU INIM, is a collaborating researcher.
Collaborator sites for the grant include: Boston University, RTI International, Bronx VAMC, New Jersey War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC), and the California U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC).
She is looking for those who suffer from GWI to participate in the current phase of research and clinical trials. Those interested can contact the Neuro Immune Institute at [email protected]
The U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, 820 Chandler Street, Fort Detrick MD 21702-5014 is the awarding and administering acquisition office. This work is supported by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, through the Gulf War Illness Research Program under Award No. W81XWH1820062. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the Department of Defense.
About Nova Southeastern University (NSU): Ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s Top 200 National Research Universities and located in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a dynamic research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional degree levels. A private, not-for-profit institution, NSU has campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa Bay, Florida, as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico, while maintaining a presence online globally. For more than 50 years, NSU has been awarding degrees in a wide range of fields, while fostering groundbreaking research and an impactful commitment to community. Classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is 1 of only 50 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification, and is also the largest private, not-for-profit institution in the United States that meets the U.S. Department of Education’s criteria as a Hispanic-serving Institution. Please visit www.nova.edu for more information about NSU.
About NSU’s Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine: The mission of the College of Osteopathic Medicine is to provide learner-centered education, both nationally and internationally, for osteopathic medical students, postgraduate trainees, and other professionals. Through its inter-professional programs, the college prepares competent and compassionate lifelong learners; supports research, scholarly activity, and community service; and advocates for the health and welfare of diverse populations, including the medically underserved. For more information, visit http://medicine.nova.edu/.