Canada Slams New MS Treatment, Patients Pin Hopes on Bulgaria
Canada's major federal funding agency has refused to provide money for a controversial treatment for multiple sclerosis patients, which is available in Bulgaria.
"There was unanimous agreement from the scientific experts that it is premature to support pan-Canadian clinical trials on the proposed 'liberation procedure," said Dr. Alain Beaudet, President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), as cited by local media.
"The experts agree there is an overwhelming lack of scientific evidence on the safety and efficacy of the procedure. Or even that there is any link between blocked veins and MS," added Dr. Beaudet.
Reports of MS patients being able to get out of their wheelchairs and climb stairs have captured the attention of people with the disease around the world.
Many Canadian patients have booked operations at clinics at the Bulgarian capital Sofia for the controversial procedure, which involves unblocking veins in the neck to restore blood flow.
Tessa Rushton, who has recently returned from Bulgaria, says opening the blocked veins in her neck means she no longer has to walk with a cane, her balance has improved, and she no longer has overwhelming fatigue.
"Most of the brain fog went away. It was like someone turned a light switch on and I could see again. It was an amazing feeling," says Rushton.
Developed by Dr. Paolo Zamboni, an Italian researcher, the procedure involves angioplasty to help ease the flow in beck veins of blood from the brain to the heart.
According to news reports, Zamboni believes narrowed or blocked veins force blood to move backwards or reflux back into the brain and spine, causing damage.
He's termed the condition chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI.
Many MS specialists say the procedure is experimental at best and could be dangerous.
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