June 6, 2011

Preventing Migraines

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Migraine headaches can be debilitating and disruptive. Now, scientists have discovered a gene for migraine that they say holds promise for creating new therapies -- maybe even a pill -- to prevent these severe headaches.

"For the first time in decades, I have seen great interest by the research community, including the private pharmaceutical industry in developing preventive migraine therapies," Guy A. Rouleau, M.D., director of the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center and Full Professor in the Department of Medicine of the Universit© de Montr©al, was quoted as saying.

Researchers sequenced the gene for migraine last year. They say this finding could help them develop therapies and preventive drugs. Triptans, which were discovered in the 1980s, contract blood vessels in the brain to inhibit pain receptors, which can block migraine in some patients. However, these drugs are not considered preventive.

"We may be moving toward developing a pill that would block the brain's pain channel that reacts to stimulation and causes pain in migraine," Dr. Rouleau said. "Sequencing the gene not only allows us to understand the disease, it also opens understanding of the pain pathways that trigger migraine pain."

"The discovery of a gene for migraine with aura last fall was important because it confirms the longstanding observation that migraine 'runs' in some families," R. Allan Purdy, M.D., of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was quoted as saying. "The presence of genetic factors in a common form of migraine holds promise for developing an effective treatment."

SOURCE: The Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society, June 1, 2011