Scientists have identified a genetic defect linked to migraine which could provide a target for new treatments.
A flawed gene found in a family of migraine sufferers could help trigger the severe headaches, a study in Nature Medicine suggests.
Dr Zameel Cader of the University of Oxford said the discovery was a step forward in understanding why one in five people suffers from migraines.
The World Health Organization rates it as a leading cause of disability.
A migraine is a severe, long-lasting headache usually felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head. Some can have a warning visual disturbance, called an aura, before the start of the headache, and many people also have symptoms such as nausea and sensitivity to light during the headache itself.
Until now, the genes directly responsible for migraine have been unknown.
In this study, scientists including some from the Medical Research Council’s Functional Genomics Unit at the University of Oxford found a gene known as TRESK was directly attributable as a cause of migraine in some patients.
The study found that if the gene does not work properly, environmental factors can more easily trigger pain centers in the brain and cause a severe headache.
The international team used DNA samples from families with common migraine to identify the defective gene.
Dr Aarno Palotie, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said the breakthrough could eventually lead to new drugs which could switch off the pain of migraines.
“It opens new avenues for planning new research which possibly could then lead to new treatments… but of course it’s a long road.”
Dr Cader, one of the MRC researchers involved in the study, said:
“Previous studies have identified parts of our DNA that increase the risk in the general population, but have not found genes which can be directly responsible for common migraine.
“What we’ve found is that migraines seem to depend on how excitable our nerves are in specific parts of the brain.
“Finding the key player which controls this excitability will give us a real opportunity to find a new way to fight migraines and improve the quality of life for those suffering.”
He told the BBC’s Today Show the research showed the defective gene in migraine patients was under-active, therefore causing the headaches. “So what we want to do is find a drug that will activate the gene,” he added.
Professor Peter Goadsby, trustee of The Migraine Trust, said:
“The identification of a mutation in a gene for the potassium channel in a family with migraine with aura provides both a further important part of the puzzle in understanding the biology of migraine, and a novel direction to consider new therapies in this very disabling condition.”
This was taken from an article in the BBC News. The link is follows:
To put all this into perspective, this gene is for migraine with aura only. That only covers 20% at the high-end, of migraine sufferers. It is great that they found this gene, however, are they still going to continue to look for the genes for the common migraine as well? I ask this because they may leave it for a while until they work with this TRESK gene to learn more about it. I feel it just delays it for the 80% who are still waiting for some kind of breakthrough.
I am doing this series on Migraines because there is a link between Migraines and Depression, and Fibromyalgia has its own type of headache that is similar to a migraine.
I cannot stress enough that you have to get to know your own body. How it works, what symptoms are normal and what should be looked at because no one else is going to do it for you.
It is sad to say that the times when the family doctor made house calls is long gone.
Have a Great Day!!
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