'Liberation therapy' doctor urges caution for patients
MS patients rally on Parliament Hill, Monday, Sept. 20, 2010, pushing the federal government to advance clinical trials of the 'liberation treatment' which would open blocked veins in their necks.
Published Saturday, October 16, 2010 2:27PM EDT
The Italian doctor who created the controversial ‘liberation therapy' for multiple sclerosis -- trumpeted by some as a possible miracle treatment -- is now urging MS patients to wait for more clinical trials.
Dr. Paolo Zamboni's caution comes after many MS sufferers have already crossed borders and paid thousands of dollars for the procedure, which attempts to open up some of the brain's blood vessels.
Zamboni has hypothesized that improper blood drainage may be a factor in causing MS, but that position is controversial in the MS community.
Calling the problem CCSVI (chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency), Zamboni's theory states that blocked veins in the neck and chest contribute to the disease. But the commonly held belief is that the affliction is an autoimmune disease. Critics of the treatment believe that MS sufferers have been given false hope.
However, Zamboni has recently cautioned that those seeking the treatment should hold off, with the exception of patients taking part in clinical trials.
"Surgery is not recommended at this stage," said Zamboni, who works out of Ferrara, Italy. Additionally, Zamboni said that he did not support such cases of "medical tourism."
The comments made at an MS conference in Sweden and were published this week in the news service NeuroSens.
However, many patients have already sought out the treatment, including Canadians who have crossed borders for the therapy. In Poland, India and Bulgaria, some clinics are already offering the treatment.
In recent weeks, politicians in Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Quebec have come out in support of the treatment, calling for clinical trials on a national level.
"I'm going to be instructing and working with the minister of health to ensure that position is advanced in the health ministers' meeting this fall," said Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter in August.
Some patients have expressed gratitude for the treatment and said that their symptoms subsided after undergoing the therapy.
Earlier this week, CTV News spoke with MS patient Julie Goodwin, who was willing to give the therapy a shot later this year in Poland.
"I just really feel I can't wait indefinitely," she told CTV News. "My symptoms are getting more severe. I have been spending more and more time needing the assistance of this wheelchair."
Meanwhile, the MS Society of Canada and its U.S. counterpart have pledged $2.4 million for seven studies into the therapy.
With files from The Canadian Press