Two provinces have decided to test a new treatment for CCSVI (chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency), a reported abnormality in blood drainage from the brain and spinal cord that may contribute to nervous system damage in people with MS (multiple Sclerosis). Both Saskatchewan and Quebec have taken measures to test the treatment, which uses stents or balloons to widen veins. The treatment is still unproven and some consider it controversial as the use of stents and balloons to widen or clear arteries and veins is potentially dangerous and the benefits are unproven.
CCSVI was first described in 2008 by Italian Doctor Paolo Zamboni, one of the main defenders of its relationship with multiple sclerosis. He and other proponents of treatment for CCSVI have acknowledged that widespread testing is needed before positive results can be verified and more importantly, before the connection between CCSVI and MS can be established firmly.
Nevertheless, the call for testing has been widespread by groups advocating on behalf of MS sufferers and for now, Quebec and Saskatchewan are prepared to conduct thorough tests. Other provinces either have remained quiet on the issue, or like Dalton McGuinty in Ontario, have remained apprehensive on approving testing. McGuinty did tell the Globe and Mail, however, that “I think it holds some promise and our responsibility now is to work together and make sure that it in fact is something that we should be supporting. I think it’s good news that Saskatchewan has decided they want to take a lead on this.”
Like Ontario, other provinces may just wait to see what comes out of the tests conducted by Quebec and Saskatchewan before committing the resources to testing the treatment for CCSVI. Meanwhile, the MS Society has been monitored the treatment and “issued a request for research operating grants to study the relationship between CCSVI and MS. The call for specific research proposals is unique and unprecedented in the MS Society’s 60-year history. By funding research into MS and CCSVI, the MS Society hopes to clarify the relationship between CCSVI and MS and to identify what treatment potential it may offer to people living with MS.