Medical advisors to the UK MS Society have raised doubts about a theory put forward by Italian doctor Paulo Zamboni, who this week proposed that a vein disorder is the cause of multiple sclerosis (MS).
In a statement, the experts have found fault with the theory that MS is caused by blockages in veins that drain the brain and suggest that people with MS are unlikely to benefit by any treatments developed to treat what Dr Zamboni called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI).
This week, results have been published of Dr Paulo Zamboni's work investigating whether CCSVI plays a role in multiple sclerosis (MS). The authors admit, however, that the recent paper published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery, A prospective open-label study of endovascular treatment of chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, has significant drawbacks.
Last week, early news of Dr Zamboni's novel theory sparked international interest and has led to scientists at the University of Buffalo in New York to test his theory by recruiting for a large study.
Research Communications Officer at the MS Society, Dr Susan Kohlhaas, said: "Several medical advisers to the MS Society have read through the papers published by Dr Zamboni, and have heard him lecture on the subject.
"They are not convinced by the evidence that blockages to draining veins from the brain are specific to people with MS, or that this explains the cause of MS at any stage of the condition."
Dr Zamboni's most recently published work examined CCSVI in 65 people and suggested that 50 per cent of people with relapsing remitting MS were relapse-free for 18 months.
Among the control group of MS patients who did not undergo the procedure, Zamboni found that only 27 per cent went 18 months without a relapse. There was no published benefit for people with progressive forms of the condition.
Participants with relapsing remitting MS, however, were allowed to continue receiving their usual form of treatment, so it is inconclusive whether any reduction in relapse rate was due to the CCSVI procedure. I think the controls also continued using their "usual form of treatment" which would negate this comment.
Importantly, the result of the procedure was measured using different MRI scanning machines and at different times, meaning the data is inconsistent and not a useful measure.
Professor Alastair Compston, Head of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge and winner of the 2007 Charcot Award for a lifetime achievement in MS research, is one of the MS Society's six medical advisors.
He said: "The treatment for CCSVI is not available for patients with multiple sclerosis in the United Kingdom because there is no convincing evidence to suggest that it is safe or beneficial to people with MS.
"People with MS are unlikely to benefit from treatments that dilate blood vessels."
Source: MS Society (UK) © 2009 Multiple Sclerosis Society (05/12/09)