An Italian doctor has been getting dramatic results with a new type of
treatment for Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, which affects up to 2.5 million
people worldwide. In an initial study, Dr. Paolo Zamboni took 65
patients with relapsing-remitting MS, performed a simple operation to
unblock restricted bloodflow out of the brain – and two years after the
surgery, 73% of the patients had no symptoms. Dr. Zamboni’s thinking
could turn the current understanding of MS on its head, and offer many
sufferers a complete cure.
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, has long been regarded as a life sentence of
debilitating nerve degeneration. More common in females, the disease
affects an estimated 2.5 million people around the world, causing
physical and mental disabilities that can gradually destroy a patient’s
quality of life.
It’s generally accepted that there’s no cure for MS, only treatments
that mitigate the symptoms – but a new way of looking at the disease has
opened the door to a simple treatment that is causing radical
improvements in a small sample of sufferers.
Italian Dr. Paolo Zamboni has put forward the idea that many types of MS
are actually caused by a blockage of the pathways that remove excess
iron from the brain – and by simply clearing out a couple of major veins
to reopen the blood flow, the root cause of the disease can be
Dr. Zamboni’s revelations came as part of a very personal mission – to
cure his wife as she began a downward spiral after diagnosis. Reading
everything he could on the subject, Dr. Zamboni found a number of
century-old sources citing excess iron as a possible cause of MS. It
happened to dovetail with some research he had been doing previously on
how a buildup of iron can damage blood vessels in the legs – could it be
that a buildup of iron was somehow damaging blood vessels in the brain?
He immediately took to the ultrasound machine to see if the idea had any
merit – and made a staggering discovery. More than 90% of people with MS
have some sort of malformation or blockage in the veins that drain blood
from the brain. Including, as it turned out, his wife.
He formed a hypothesis on how this could lead to MS: iron builds up in
the brain, blocking and damaging these crucial blood vessels. As the
vessels rupture, they allow both the iron itself, and immune cells from
the bloodstream, to cross the blood-brain barrier into the
cerebro-spinal fluid. Once the immune cells have direct access to the
immune system, they begin to attack the myelin sheathing of the cerebral
nerves – Multiple Sclerosis develops.
He named the problem Chronic Cerebro-Spinal Venous Insufficiency, or
Zamboni immediately scheduled his wife for a simple operation to unblock
the veins – a catheter was threaded up through blood vessels in the
groin area, all the way up to the effected area, and then a small
balloon was inflated to clear out the blockage. It’s a standard and
relatively risk-free operation – and the results were immediate. In the
three years since the surgery, Dr. Zamboni’s wife has not had an attack.
Widening out his study, Dr. Zamboni then tried the same operation on a
group of 65 MS-sufferers, identifying blood drainage blockages in the
brain and unblocking them – and more than 73% of the patients are
completely free of the symptoms of MS, two years after the operation.
In some cases, a balloon is not enough to fully open the vein channel,
which collapses either as soon as the balloon is removed, or sometime
later. In these cases, a metal stent can easily be used, which remains
in place holding the vein open permanently.
Dr. Zamboni’s lucky find is yet to be accepted by the medical community,
which is traditionally slow to accept revolutionary ideas. Still, most
agree that while further study needs to be undertaken before this is
looked upon as a cure for MS, the results thus far have been very
Naturally, support groups for MS sufferers are buzzing with the news
that a simple operation could free patients from what they have always
been told would be a lifelong affliction, and further studies are being
undertaken by researchers around the world hoping to confirm the link
between CCSVI and MS, and open the door for the treatment to become
available for sufferers worldwide.
It’s certainly a very exciting find for MS sufferers, as it represents a
possible complete cure, as opposed to an ongoing treatment of symptoms.
We wish Dr. Zamboni and the various teams looking further into this
issue the best of luck.