Introduction: Hope for MS Sufferers (02:12)
The standard protocols for medical research were derailed by the internet when sufferers of a degenerative disease, multiple sclerosis, heard of a possible cure, a procedure called liberation therapy.
Neural Damage of MS (01:23)
Neurologists explain the neural damage caused by MS. Intermittent relapses become more frequent until the disease becomes progressive, as the brain can no longer repair itself. The cause of the disease is unknown.
Chronic Cerebro Spinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI) (03:38)
Italian vascular surgeon, Dr. Paolo Zamboni, in collaboration with neurologist, Dr. Fabrizio Salvi, found CCSVI in MS patients and used angioplasty to treat vein blockages. The procedure became known as liberation therapy.
Hope for MS Spread on the Internet (02:27)
Despite the tepid response from the international medical community to Dr. Zamboni's published paper, existing MS networks spread the word about Zamboni's paper, ignoring his caveats. The news media picked up on the story.
Patient Demand for Treatment (02:25)
Patients and their families talk about the consequences of MS. As internet communities spread the word about CCSVI and liberation therapy, patients demanded the procedure after watching videos of positive results on the internet.
Liberation Therapy in Canada (02:47)
Dr. Salvi regrets that many unscrupulous doctors used the internet for personal gain. Canadian Dr. Sandy McDonald learned from Dr. Zamboni and instituted the procedure in Ontario, but liberation therapy was prohibited in B.C.
Public Demand Versus Research Protocol (02:03)
Dr. McDonald explains that angioplasty, although relatively safe, was not an accepted practice for MS by the Canadian Health Care System. By 2010, public demand confronted the roadblock of medical research protocol.
The Placebo Effect (02:20)
The random appearance and disappearance of symptoms in MS increase the possibility of the placebo effect. Patients claim the procedure improves quality of life, even if it is a placebo. While anecdote is powerful, it is not evidence of a cure.
Cardiac Surgeon Champions Liberation Therapy (02:28)
Dr. Gianfranco Campalani was able to resume cardiac surgery after the angioplasty for his MS. He claims denial of the procedure for MS is unethical. Angioplasty is an approved procedure for vascular blockage, commonly found with MS.
Medical Specialty Turf War (03:43)
Neurologists and Vascular Specialists form opposing camps over angioplasty treatment for MS. The Canadian Institute of Research created a CCSVI task force while the public demanded the treatment phase begin immediately.
Medical Rationale Versus Hope (02:35)
A neurologist explains the rationale of delayed treatment until research proves the efficacy of the procedure for MS. A patient talks about his experience with disappointing experimental trials with drug therapy.
Overseas Offers for Liberation Therapy (02:29)
Miracle videos of improved MS symptoms after angioplasty in other countries besieged the medical community. Family physicians are unsure of where to refer their MS patients. Fundraisers helped patients travel abroad for the procedure.
Liberation Therapy in Costa Rica (03:19)
Canadian MS patients wait to receive angioplasty in Costa Rica. None have the blessings of their neurologists. After a neurological examination, a doppler scan reveals the blockages. Angioplasty successfully removes the blockages.
Online Success Stories, Unseen Failures (02:09)
Improvements after liberation therapy become an online video that encourages other patients to seek treatment. One third had no benefit, but the other 2/3 showed improvement. The social media space doesn't show the failures.
MS Society Funding for Research Lags (01:35)
The controversy in the news media and online has split the MS community. As many patients demand immediate treatment, research money from the MS Society has dwindled. People are not participating in the MS Walk for research funds.
Medical Backlash Against Liberation Therapy (01:35)
In 2010, as studies cast doubt on the Zamboni treatment the procedure was called a hoax. Dr. Zamboni and Dr. Salvi are dismayed at the attacks.
Similar Backlash in the 1980's (01:49)
Dr. Franz Schelling started research on MS in 1981. He studied papers going back a century and discovered misdirected blood flow could cause the pattern of brain lesions in MS. Internal politics forced him to give up his post as a researcher.
Politicians Respond to Online Controversy (03:29)
Dr. Zamboni and patients ask why research should be stopped. As the controversy grew online and in the media, MS patients took the fight to politicians when the medical community didn't respond, and some provinces funded the procedure.
Encouraging Study Results (02:14)
A large study on CCSVI in MS testing 499 subjects found blockages in 56.1% in MS patients and 22.7% in healthy patients. It also showed higher CCSVI in advanced stages of MS. Treatment trials were approved in Ottawa.
Implications of Social Media Pressure (02:25)
The research community worries that social media and public pressure may dictate priorities and interfere with funding for scientific research. Politics, social media and research, and the balance between science and ethics inform the debate on MS.
Credits: MS Wars: Hope, Science, and the Internet (00:54)
Credits: MS Wars: Hope, Science, and the Internet
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