Saskatchewan MS sufferers wait for the callREGINA -- Saskatchewan MS patients hoping to take part in a clinical trial of a controversial treatment may soon get a call from the ministry of health.
Only 10 per cent of those who applied will get that call.
Deb Jordan, a ministry spokeswoman, said 670 people had signed up as of Thursday. The deadline to apply for the two-year, double-blind trial of liberation therapy was midnight Friday.
Jordan said names will be randomly drawn starting next week to determine who will fill 86 spots in the test taking place in Albany, N.Y. A successful candidate must be a Saskatchewan resident, under the age of 60 and not had liberation treatment.
"Once we verify that information, then the applicant will be forwarded to the folks who are involved in the clinical trial," said Jordan. "I want to also emphasize that the fact that a patient may be drawn does not necessarily mean that they will move on to the clinical trial.
"There's the medical assessment that has to take place by the team and it is the... clinical team that is operating the clinical trial that will ultimately make the decisions about the patients who will be participating in the trial."
Jordan said the process could take several months.
The treatment is based on a hypothesis by Italian vascular surgeon Dr. Paolo Zamboni that a condition he dubbed chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI, may be linked to multiple sclerosis. The theory suggests narrowed neck veins create a backup of blood that can lead to lesions in the brain and inflammation. Liberation therapy involves opening up blocked neck veins.
The idea has divided the medical community.
Some patients have reported improvement after the therapy. Other studies have raised doubts about its effectiveness and questioned the benefits when weighed against the risks.The procedure is not offered in Canada and some patients have travelled around the world to seek it out. At least two Canadians have died after having the treatment.
Saskatchewan has some of the highest rates of MS in the country. Canada's rate of MS is among the highest in the world at 240 per 100,000 people. On the Prairies, the rate is 340 per 100,000 people.