After the 1991 Gulf War, thousands of soldiers returned home with mysterious symptoms and brain damage... a condition now called the Gulf War Syndrome.
Researchers say the cause of the Gulf War Syndrome is a little bit controversial, but it's thought to be due to a combination of exposure to chemicals that are in some of the pesticides, or in some of the nerve gas that they soldiers were exposed to. Neuroscientests at the Salk Institute in California have now studied in mice a gene that normally gives nerve cells some protection against such nerve agents. And the scientists wrote in the Journal Nature Genetics that the gene likely works the same way in humans. They say the study suggests that, if you inherit even one bad copy or one modified copy from either one of your parents, you'd be at increased risk if you are exposed to pesticides or nerve gas. Researchers also say that could explain why some veterans have more severe symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome than others.