The Liberation War: How the Internet helped pull theories together
The Liberation War
Published Saturday, April 10, 2010 7:08PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, November 21, 2012 1:13PM EST
In the town of Dornbirn, Austria, retired physician Dr. Franz Schelling is watching the explosion of interest in Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI) and the Liberation Treatment, convinced this long-dismissed idea will finally get its day in scientific court.
Dr. Schelling is a family physician who also trained in radiology and neurology. As a young doctor, he treated patients with MS and was not convinced it was just a disease of the immune system. He reviewed research and noticed that scientists had reported signs of brain damage that appeared linked to abnormal blood flow.
"The more I collected, the more I was convinced it had to be a venous flow inversion," he said.
His work began in 1973. Even after studying models of human veins from autopsies, he couldn't figure out why blood might be flowing backwards into the brains of those with MS. He wanted help to investigate the theory further.
But no one would listen. MS specialists rejected his calls for more study, telling him that MS was an immune disorder and had nothing to do with the veins.
"It really cracked me down because I had… patients who died of MS. I went back to surgery after I realized there was no interest in clearing up this issue," he says.
He says attempts to publish a book on his work were rejected some 200 times.
That is until 2002, when Dr. Schelling's son decided to collect his father's scientific work and publish it on the Internet, giving his theory a new worldwide audience. One of those who came to his website was Dr. Paolo Zamboni, a vascular surgeon in Ferrara, Italy, named who had also been analyzing the link between MS and blood flow. Schelling noticed Zamboni had visited the site, and emailed him.
The Internet connected Zamboni's own findings of strange and narrowed veins in many patients with MS with the background research completed by Dr. Schelling and other scientists before him.
Now, the Internet is not only making connections for scientists, but also for patients. Desperately unhappy MS patients are using the Web to demand doctors investigate this theory quickly.
And from his post in Austria, Dr. Schelling is trying to help patients navigate all the uncertainty, via the Internet, the tool that helped push an old theory into the 21 century. The research may prove this may be far more complex than just opening up blocked plumbing, but he is celebrating the worldwide investigation.
"This is just the beginning, but a very, very great beginning."