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Oct 1 12 7:10 AM
A long-awaited national trial of a controversial experimental treatment for multiple sclerosis has been given the go-ahead and will soon begin recruiting patients, federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced Friday.
Aglukkaq, in Halifax for a meeting with provincial and territorial health ministers, said about 100 MS patients will be enrolled in the Phase I and II trial to assess the safety of the procedure to unblock narrowed neck veins and its efficacy in improving MS symptoms.
The condition — dubbed chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI — has been proposed as a possible cause of MS by Italian vascular surgeon Paolo Zamboni.
More than three years ago, Zamboni hypothesized that narrowed and twisted veins in the neck and chest create a backup of blood in the brain, resulting in iron deposits that could cause the brain lesions typical of MS.
The disease causes the destruction of myelin, the protective sheath around nerves throughout the body, leading to progressive physical and cognitive disability. An estimated 55,000 to 75,000 Canadians have MS, and the country has one of the highest rates of the incurable disease in the world.
"We've always said that we needed the science behind the actual procedure," Aglukkaq told reporters. "This area of MS clinical trials is very important to many of our constituents and today is huge progress."... [Read More]
Oct 10 12 6:58 PM
A Canadian study that tracked 80 multiple sclerosis patients who underwent the controversial “liberation treatment” outside of the country suggests that about half of them saw their symptoms improve after the procedure.Researchers in British Columbia surveyed 80 people over the phone one year after they received the controversial treatment, which involves opening up blocked veins to improve blood flow from the brain.
“The picture that seems to be coming out is that about half of the patients feel some improvements in MS symptoms. The degree of improvements ranges from mild to significant,” Dr. Anthony Traboulsee, medical director of the UBC Hospital MS Clinic, told CTV News.
“And about half the patients feel exactly the same as before the procedure or worse.”... [Read More]
Oct 15 12 6:29 PM
The largest study to date testing the venous-obstruction theory of multiple sclerosis failed to support it, leading the Italian Multiple Sclerosis Society to declare the theory dead.
Reported here by leaders of the group, known by its Italian abbreviation AISM, the study of nearly 2,000 individuals with blinded central imaging analysis found the condition in only about 3% of MS patients and in only slightly fewer healthy controls or patients with other neurological conditions.
Key data were released at a press briefing by principal investigator Giancarlo Comi, MD, of the University of Milan, and other study leaders in advance of Comi's formal presentation, scheduled for Saturday at the annual meeting of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis.
They characterized the study as the largest yet conducted on the so-called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency theory (CCSVI), advanced in 2009 by Paolo Zamboni, MD, of the University of Ferrara in Italy.
The CCSVI theory quickly took the MS community by storm, leading many patients to seek venous angioplasty and stenting procedures in hope of obtaining relief or even a cure, as Zamboni and some other vascular surgeons claimed was possible.
But the theory also drew substantial criticism, especially after numerous other researchers were unable to reproduce Zamboni's original findings of 100% presence of CCSVI in MS patients and 0% in non-MS controls. Some groups were unable to detect CCSVI in more than a small fraction of patients, while others found that it was relatively common but without specificity for MS.
In the new study, sponsored by AISM and called CoSMo, ultrasound analyses were performed on 1,874 individuals at 35 clinics throughout Italy. A total of 107 were subsequently excluded because of technical problems with the images or because participants were found not to meet the specified inclusion criteria (such as age or disease duration).... [Read More]
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