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New hope in the fight against Multiple Sclerosis

Posted on July 28, 2010

Flying home from a conference on Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in New York this week, I couldn’t shake two memories.

The first was one patient’s words after receiving “liberation” treatment: “In general, I feel that I’m healing instead of just continuing to fail.” The second was a doctor’s plea: “I have eighty patients on an excel spreadsheet, they are desperate, and I want to help.”

Our party supports funding research for MS for all forms of treatment – including research into liberation treatment.

Liberation treatment is a cutting-edge therapy for MS patients thought to be suffering from chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), a narrowing or blockage of veins in the neck which drain blood from the brain, that may trigger MS symptoms.

One researcher, Dr. Salvi of Italy told the other doctors in attendance — leading researchers from Bulgaria, Italy, Kuwait, and the United States — that you “don’t have to treat many to understand that something positive happens to these patients.”

It was an encouraging note amid a wider discussion on making rapidly-evolving science available, managing patient expectations, and the importance of developing a registry to capture pre-operative and post-operative data, and promote more published research.

The conference focused a lot on the science of CCSVI, but part of that included overcoming the obstacles to broad acceptance of CCSVI. It is a disease that is misunderstood by many, most notably the Harper government, which has ignored repeated calls to make a targeted $10-million investment into CCSVI research.

This week, however, Canadians who suffer from the disease — people like my cousin — may have finally gotten some good news.

The Province of Saskatchewan announced it will help pay for clinical trials of liberation treatment.  It is disappointing, however, that our federal government still refuses to actively participate and contribute to the ongoing research.

It’s unbelievable how one theory has provoked such a visceral response, and polarized advocacy groups, patients and researchers. In my opinion, working with MS patients across Canada has been one of the most humbling and overwhelming experiences of my life.

Kirsty Duncan

Kirsty Duncan is the MP for Etobicoke North and serves as the Liberal Party’s critic for Public Health. She can be contacted at

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