Multiple Sclerosis is a devastating disease in which patients usually have progressive paralysis throughout their body. Treatment options are limited because researchers still have not found a cause for the initiation of the killing of nerve cells that occurs. What researchers do know is that something allows the immune system to become activated and attack components of the nervous system. However, what sets it off remains a mystery.

That is why, in 2009, when Italian vascular surgeon Dr. Paulo Zamboni proposed that MS might be caused by leaky veins leading to the brain people took notice. He said that a procedure to clear up the blood vessels would stop the disease in its tracks and called the condition chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI. He suggested that opening the veins of the neck and chest with an angioplasty-like device would relieve the symptoms and eventually could stop the disease.

He even offered proof that the procedure had worked on his wife, who had suffered from MS but had gone into remission after he had the surgery performed on her.

Since he had announced the procedure and toured the world giving lectures at medical conferences, universities and medical centers, an estimated 30,000 MS patients have sought out the procedure, which is performed in Poland, Bulgaria, Mexico, India and the United States. The procedure is not currently approved by the FDA for treatment of MS.

Now comes news of a small clinical trial at the University of Buffalo that examined the procedure in 30 MS patients. They found that while the procedure is safe, it had no benefit to patients' symptoms, quality of life or disease progression.

"What we found was rather surprising and unexpected," said neurosurgeon Dr. Adnan Siddiqui, co-principal investigator on the study. "It was quite the opposite of what we originally expected to find. The study showed that endovascular treatment of stenosed (blocked) veins had no effect in MS patients."

Additionally, MRI scans of patients who underwent the procedure found that in some patients there was an increase in brain lesions, a marker used to signify progression of the disease in MS.

"However, is this the last word on venous angioplasty? Absolutely not. I think a much larger cohort (group of patients) would be required to really demonstrate that definitivelysaid Dr. Siddiqu.

University at Buffalo researchers will present their results in an "Emerging Science" poster session March 20 at the annual American Academy of Neurology meeting in San Diego.

To watch the University of Buffalo Reseachers Discuss the procedure and the clinical trial, view the video below.