pa.press.net, Updated: 24/08/2011 04:03
New research into MS gets go-ahead
The go-ahead has been given for further research into a procedure which could relieve symptoms for some people who have multiple sclerosis.
The procedure, called percutaneous venoplasty, aims to improve blood flow from the brain by using a small inflatable balloon or stent to widen narrowed veins in the neck which carry oxygen-depleted blood.
Multiple sclerosis is the most common disabling neurological condition affecting young adults. Around 100,000 people in the UK have MS.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) is proposing in its draft guidance that the procedure should be used in the context of research only, so further evidence on its safety and clinical efficacy can be developed.
It has been suggested that there could be a link between narrowed veins - called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI - and the progression of MS.
Professor Bruce Campbell, chairman of the independent committee that develops Nice's interventional procedures guidance, said: "Multiple sclerosis can be a distressing and disabling condition with a lack of effective treatments.
"This means that it is really important to find out whether percutaneous venoplasty is clinically effective and safe for use in the NHS.
"Based on the existing evidence, we believe that clinicians should only consider offering percutaneous venoplasty as a treatment option for people with MS who fit the diagnostic criteria for CCSVI, as part of structured clinical trials.
"In particular, we would welcome controlled research comparing percutaneous venoplasty against 'sham venoplasty', in the same way that drug treatments are compared to a placebo.
"This is so that we can learn more about whether venoplasty works and for how long. Further research could also improve the understanding of the relationship between MS and CCSVI, as this is very unclear at present."