June 30, 2011
Health minister approves federal funding
Heath Minister Leona Aglukkaq has announced federal funding for clinical trials of so-called liberation therapy for multiple sclerosis patients.
Saying it has been a “moving experience” working with MS patients and their families, Aglukkaq said on Wednesday there is now enough preliminary scientific evidence to move ahead on government-funded clinical trials.
Dr. Alain Beaudet, president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, who chaired a meeting Tuesday with the Scientific Expert Working Group on Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency and Multiple Sclerosis, was on hand to support the unanimous decision of the expert panel.
Beaudet said he expects a request for proposals to be issued by the end of the year, with trials set up by next year.
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada has called upon Ottawa and all provinces and territories to fund therapeutic clinical trials and has committed $1 million toward the financial cost of a clinical trial.
The exact cause of MS is unknown, but environmental and genetic factors are suspected. There is no cure, but symptoms can be managed.
Liberation is an unproven therapy based on the theory of Italian neurologist Dr. Paolo Zamboni that stenosis, a narrowing or blockage of veins in the neck that drain blood from the brain, results in a medical condition known as chronic cerebrospinal venus insufficiency, which may cause MS symptoms.
Removing the blockage improves blood flow, which in turn improves balance and walking, while reducing dizziness, fatigue, muscle spasms and incontinence.
Previously, the procedure did not meet Health Canada’s stringent requirements, so dozens of Canadians have spent thousands of dollars to travel to private clinics and hospitals abroad to have it done. North Americans can’t even get the imaging test here that would tell them for certain if their jugular veins are blocked.