Is CCSVI treatment, a cure for Multiple Sclerosis?!
CCSVI treatment and cure for Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neuro-immunological disorder where one’s immune system gets mis-directional to attack its own central nervous system. About 2.5 million people worldwide are affected with MS. With no known cause or cure for this auto-immune disease, suddenly there is a lot of buzz of new hope with which the sufferers could say bye-bye to MS and live a normal life! This new ‘Liberation Treatment’ is based on the concept of Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI).
The common symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis range from blurred vision, diplopia, optic neuritis, nystagmus, slurred speech, gait problem, bowel or urinary incontinence, fatigue, pain, tremors and spasticity. The widely known concept for MS till date was that the immune system attacks myelin sheath (nerves coating) and can cause temporary or permanent damage based upon the scope of remyelination. For the same theory, the only option was immuno-suppressive drugs such as interferons (Avonex, Beta-Interferon and Rebif) or a non-interferon Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) which other than huge expense are known to cause severe side effects. On the radar are also the oral pills such as Cladribine, Fingolimod, Laquinimod etc. in Phase II or III trials. Paolo Zamboni, an Italian doctor and professor at the University of Ferrara has made a breakthrough showing a new concept and a possible cure through Liberation Treatment.
Dr. Zamboni, also a vascular surgeon started his research about a decade ago when his 40 something wife was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His research study showed 100% of MS patients (65 people) having narrowing of veins (stenosis) of the neck region that flush blood from the brain. Dr. Paolo found high levels of iron deposits in the brain region due to dysfunction of these veins, and excess iron is bad as it release free radicals that cause cell death. He attributes severity of Multiple Sclerosis symptoms to more number of blocked veins which also include jugular (bring deoxygenated blood back from head to heart) and azygous (brings deoxygenated blood from thorax and abdomen) veins. It is said that the slower travel of deoxygenated blood may possibly cause a reflux back into brain and spine causing hypoxia in the brain. Also, this may allow iron and immune cells from blood stream to cross the blood-brain-barrier (BBB) and flow into the CSF (Cerebro-spinal fluid). The immune cells thus attack myelin. Raised level of antibodies in the CSF (spinal tap) is one of the key diagnoses for Multiple Sclerosis. Why the veins are narrowed, is not very clear but it could be congenital.
Dr. Zamboni named this condition as Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI) and came with a simple procedure. Angiography reveals blockage in the veins. The widening of these veins is done through angioplasty (a procedure similar to coronary balloon treatment) known as liberation treatment. There is a lot of optimism among MS sufferers while some skepticism co-exists. But if a simple and not-so-expensive procedure can liberate the sufferers, Dr. Paolo’s theory would be recharging so many lives to make them live their fullest. Yet the MS Societies in USA recommend not going for the treatment until its effectiveness is confirmed.
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