23 September 2014

New Treatment brought closer to Maltese MS patients

 - Tuesday, 14 September 2010, 00:00

by Elaine Attard

A relatively recent scientific discovery in the study of Multiple Sclerosis could give a better quality of life to MS patients. However, research on the actual treatment is still in the first phase of clinical trials.

Recent discoveries in the relationship between the nervous and the cardiovascular system have shed some light on the possibility of giving a better quality of life to MS patients.

Dr Augusto Zeppi, chairman of the Italian Hilarescere Foundation, who has received the treatment himself said the treatment stops MS from progressing and therefore, if carried out in the early stages of MS, disablement can be prevented. The Hilarescere Foundation was created to support the ongoing research in the area

This discovery was made by Prof. Paolo Zamboni of the University of Ferrara, who presented it in April last year at the 31st Charing Cross International Symposium, the annual global meeting of vascular and endovascular doctors, held at Imperial College London.

Both Dr Zeppi and Prof. Zamboni were in Malta following an invitation by the Mediterranean Solidarity Foundation, a joint collaboration between the MS Society of Malta and the Malta Health Network.

The Mediterranean Solidarity Foundation was created to promote medical research and scientific cooperation for all kinds of diseases where standard diagnostic and therapeutic procedures are currently insufficient in improving the quality of life of people suffering from chronic and degenerative diseases of the nervous system and the vascular system.

Patients who have undergone the treatment relate how, after the simple procedure, their MS symptoms suddenly stopped and, in some cases, they were able to resume normal lives.

The treatment under test is a procedure that Prof. Zamboni calls the ‘Liberation Treatment’, which he says can open blocked veins using a balloon inserted into the vein, in much the way surgeons repair coronary arteries in angioplasty. It is a minimally invasive procedure. Prof. Zamboni calls the vein condition CCSVI, or Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency.

“It’s generally assumed that MS is an autoimmune disease which attacks the central nervous system, leading to weakness, extreme fatigue, chronic pain and visual problems. We explored whether MS is really a vascular problem. What if it were caused by a structural defect in the veins, one that could be diagnosed and treated before patients become disabled?” questioned Prof. Zamboni in a press conference held last Saturday.

That is the radical theory being presented by Prof. Zamboni, who has been conducting research on MS patients and noticed that almost all of them had malformed or blocked veins in their neck and chest that prevented blood from reaching their brains. He believes that this could contribute to, or even cause, their MS.

Speaking on the probability that the treatment starts being offered in Malta, Prof. Zamboni explained that it would take two to three years before the clinical trials are concluded.

Prof. Zamboni and Dr Zeppi visited hospitals and found that they were of the standard required to consider the possibility of operating here, but only after the trials are concluded.

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