01/12/2012 12:54 EST | Updated 03/13/2012 05:12 EDT

Sask. seeks volunteers for controversial MS treatment

Saskatchewan residents with multiple sclerosis can now begin volunteering for a clinical trial in New York of a controversial MS treatment.

It's being called the biggest-ever double-blind clinical study of the so-called "liberation therapy," which claims to successfully treat MS by opening up constricted veins in a patient's neck. The procedure is controversial. Many in the medical community say it doesn't work.

Of the 130 people taking part in the New York study, 86 will come from Saskatchewan.

There are an estimated 3,500 people with the disease in the province, so it's likely that not everyone who wants to be involved will get to go.

The government says it will randomly select candidates from the applications it receives, and then people will be screened and medically assessed.

"The selection process will give every eligible volunteer an equal chance to participate," provincial Health Minister Don McMorris said.

Double-blind study

Those chosen will go to Albany, New York. Half of them will have the procedure, the other half will not and then they will all be studied for two years so scientists can see the results. Travel expenses will be covered for the patient and one companion.

The deadline to apply is Feb 24.

Those interested in applying can go to the government's website. There is also a toll-free number: 1-855-690-9901

The Saskatchewan government has set aside $2.2 million for the study.