Friday, November 20, 2009

Another Iron in the Fire

Here's the CTV report that aired tonight (November 21).

CCSVI - chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency - where to start.....iron is an important building block for our bodies; it's necessary to maintain health, it's vital as a matter of fact. but like anything, too much of a good thing can be bad. There's a condition known as hemochromatosis which results in an accumulation of iron in various organs of the body, leading to pain and eventual death unless treated. A friend of mine has this illness and simply goes once a month to have a pint of blood removed from his arm. We all know about anemia, too little iron in the blood, also fairly easily treated.

But what happens if iron is trapped in a person's brain? It is considered a foreign invader and is attacked. And when our immune systems go on the defensive, their activity is conducive to an inflammatory response. Inflammation results in damage not only to the bad cells, but sometimes the good ones, too, like myelin, which is what MS is. Does the presence of iron assist in breaking down the blood/brain barrier?

Why would we have iron trapped in our brain (actually, iron deposits around cerebral veins)? Perhaps because the veins carrying blood from our brains is blocked from draining properly, and/or perhaps it refluxes (think acid reflux) - goes back a little where it just came from before finally draining.

Now why would the veins be blocked? It may be that some of us are just born that way.

So the next questions concern the chicken and the egg. Did a congenital malformation contribute to or even cause my MS or did my MS possibly cause a malformation? Or is there a gene that expresses both MS and the malformation? Does the presence of different types of malformations determine the type of MS a person has? Is it possible that the malformations are side effects of, or made worse by, MS drugs?

This venous malformation results in a few different things, one of which I find of particular interest: hypoxia. This is basically oxygen deprivation. Besides unconsciousness, another result of hypoxia is fatigue. Oh, boy, can I relate to that.

Dr. Zamboni has discovered CCSVI and made the link with MS. I'm impressed with this guy. His wife has MS and he wants to make her better. He and other researchers are now looking at this new connection of vasculature with MS, so that means more questions, but maybe more answers for those of us with MS.

And Dr. Zamboni has a really cool last name.



steve said...

Hi Shauna - This qualifies as excellent news.

As a follow up to the original broadcast on CTV's W5 program "Many people contacted CTV looking for information on how to join a study looking at the prevalence of CCSVI at the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center, which is looking for U.S. and Canadian patients" according to CTV's website.

So you can visit Buffalo NY, grab some of the world's best chicken wings, and hopefully make this MS a thing of the past. The best thing about Buffalo,(besides the world famous chicken wings)is that it is only 2 hours from Toronto.

Shauna said...

Hey Steve,

The MS Society of Canada just issued a call for researchers to put forth proposals for studies of CCSVI. You can check out the details at

The closing date for proposals is January 2010 - so Canadian research should begin soon.

I'm quite pleased with the speed of action of the MS Society on this subject. It really is very exciting and appears to have merit for all types of MS.


Denver Refashionista said...

Hmmm... this connection is a new one for me. Very interesting...