Monday, July 4, 2011

No 'magic bullet' for MS

There was an opinion piece in today's Telegraph Journal ( from a Dr. Colohan, a self-described "pain specialist with an interest in the balanced public reporting of scientific research". In the article he gives the impression that he feels that the CCSVI controversy is much ado about nothing, that there is no science behind it.  In fact there were quite a few errors and misleading statements in the opinion piece, too many for me to respond to given the paper's 1000 character limit for comments.  What I did say was:
I am also interested in the balanced public reporting of scientific research for both professional and personal reasons. Therefore, I would like to point out incorrect and/or misleading statements in Dr. Colohan's opinion piece. Firstly, he states that Zamboni's initial findings were not confirmed in 6 research publications, while neglecting to say these were small studies while much larger studies (such as the one of over 500 people in Buffalo, for example) found very high correlations between CCSVI and MS. Secondly, Dr. Colohan states that 30% of MSers treated for CCSVI have some improvement, making it the same as placebo effect. Where does the 30% come from? The only information available is from self-reported results online and from clinics, all of which report 66 to 80% of treated people had significant improvement. Can these be trusted as accurate? No, but I trust them more than numbers that apparently came from thin air. There's more, but I'm at my 1000 character limit.
Other things I could have mentioned:
  1. There are many decades of science behind the theory of vascular theory of MS or MS symptom causation, but these were ignored by much of the medical community who had bought into the autoimmune theory, instead.
  2. Many of the explanations for how CCSVI could impact (or even be the initial cause of MS) DO make good common and scientific sense.  Certainly the idea that CCSVI exists and is significantly highly correlated with MS is pretty much gaining wide acceptance by medical researchers, so for the doctor to say that "CCSVI and 'liberation therapy,' in my studied opinion, are concepts which make very little scientific sense" makes you wonder both about his sense and how much he studied the subject.
  3. The scientific method is being used by (most of) those who are researching the issue, I would hope, but for a lot of medical researchers this is all new: good clear definitions of what constitutes CCSVI and how to properly diagnose it are still being debated.  Some of the negative research results came from researchers who were not vascular specialists, didn't know what to look for... and still got published in an astounding six weeks in a Neurology journal... hmmmmm.
  4. There are several places he says things like "neurologists report that patients who have had this treatment and report subjective symptom improvement (they feel better in some manner) do not demonstrate improvement in their neurological function on physical examination", yet there are no indications who these neurologists are, where this was reported, the scientific basis for these reports, etc.  For some one advocating "balanced, scientific reporting", he certainly doesn't appear to want those rules himself.

1 comment:

  1. Good on you Ted for setting him straight!