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This article was published 20/4/2010 (4119 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
MANITOBANS could eventually test out Dr. Paolo Zamboni's controversial theory on multiple sclerosis right here at home -- possibly paying for the privilege or signing up for a study.
As interest mounts, doctors say they're keeping their options open.
"There's no reason why we can't do that (research into the Zamboni theory)," said Dr. Michael Cossoy, a neurologist at the province's MS Clinic, in an interview last week. "The radiologists would be interested, if there were proper protocols in place."
Outside the public health-care system, the owner of the only private Canadian clinic to offer testing related to the "Zamboni breakthrough" said he's not ruling out bringing the same service to Manitoba. "Definitely, we'll look at it," said Dr. Mark Godley, who owns the Maples Surgical Centre. "We have to let this unfold a bit further, but the evidence is there."
At Godley's other clinic, the False Creek Healthcare Centre, over 135 people with MS have been diagnosed with blocked veins in the head and neck, a condition dubbed chronic cerebrospinal venous insuffiency, or CCSVI. Last year, Zamboni released research that showed a link between MS and CCSVI, and found that opening the veins with balloon angioplasty could produce sometimes dramatic improvements in some patients' MS symptoms.
Last December, news of the findings exploded in the media and sparked a fierce debate over the validity and potential of the research. It also touched off some serious patient activism: In Manitoba, supporters of Zamboni's research have formed an advocacy group, CCSVI Manitoba, which will hold its first public info session tonight at Earl Grey Community Centre at 7 p.m. and plans to march on the legislature on May 5 to demand action on launching CCSVI research in the province.
Locally, much of the debate hinged on the MS Clinic's decision to hold off on research, citing concerns about the limitations of Zamboni's findings. But one thing everyone can agree on: MS has never gotten such a spotlight. "(MS) is a priority now," Cossoy said. "Government is very much aware of it. Question is, al lright, let's use this publicity to our advantage... what can we do to improve things? It would be great to have more funding so that we can have more stuff available."
Stuff like a new clinician: The MS Clinic will welcome a new MS-specialized neurologist to its staff this fall. Cossoy indicated the hiring was a welcome surprise given the clinic's tight budget, especially since the new doctor has an interest in clinical studies. "We'll probably get more clinical trials up and running, but you have to be selective... so you're not just enrolling people in trials for the sake of doing trials," Cossoy said. "And that may involve trials in CCSVI down the road, if they're well-executed."
On the private end of the health care spectrum, Godley, a self-described advocate for CCSVI, brushes off much of the debate about developing protocols. "Sooner or later we have to realize that this is just a venous obstruction that requires treatment," he said. "Whether it requires a causal attachment to MS is irrelevant. There's obstructions, they're probably causing some symptoms that need to be treated. So let's do it, and the research can come. This is a relatively harmless procedure."
Melissa Martin reports and opines for the Winnipeg Free Press.