A new treatment has been making waves in the multiple sclerosis community for months now. So much so that both the U.S. National MS Society and the MS Society of Canada have announced they are offering unrestricted research grants to any country that wants to explore its viability as a treatment method.
People are very excited. We are very interested ourselves, and we want to meet the demand of our patients,” Dr. Anthony Traboulsee of the University of British Columbia’s MS Clinic told Canadian TV News at the time the grants were announced. The “Liberation Treatment” is based on something called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, the theory that people with MS have gnarled and twisted veins in their necks that impede blood from draining properly in the brain, creating blood that’s high in iron and free radicals and thought to be the source of MS lesions and symptoms.
The theory was developed by Dr. Paolo Zamboni, a neurosurgeon and researcher in Ferrara, Italy, whose wife has MS. In his initial research, he found that 95 percent of the 65 people he examined had twisted and gnarled veins. From there he developed the highly controversial treatment method of using balloon angioplasty to open the kinked veins, correct the blood flow and slow the progression of the disease and possibly reverse MS symptoms.
While some with MS have already begun to consider CCSVI the root cause of the disease, the medical and scientific communities are suspicious of its validity. Michigan neurologist Dr. Omar Khan wrote that Zamboni’s team may have failed to consider the small sample size, the lack of healthy control subjects and neurological evaluations that weren’t blind. He also pointed out that Buffalo University professor of neurology and Zamboni collaborator, Dr. Robert Zivadinov, found CCSVI in 62.4 percent of 500 subjects and 25.9 percent of controls, as well as in 45 percent of those with other diseases. Iron deposits were found in the brains of both groups, and they didn’t specifically match up with the locations of brain lesions in those with MS.
Perhaps most damaging is Zamboni’s team found less blood volume, not more, in the brains of MSers with CCSVI than controls of the same age and sex, which seems to go against the entire CCSVI theory. At the very least, all of this questions the role CCSVI actually plays in creating an MS diagnosis. “I’m optimistic, but I think we need to follow a slow, scientific approach. Media that announces a new cure for MS is totally not us