Breakthrough news involving migraine

Investigators from the International Headache Genetics Consortium, a world-wide collaboration of researchers, have identified the first-ever genetic risk factor associated with common types of migraine. Researchers looked at genetic data of more than 50,000 people and found new insights into the triggers for migraines attacks, which commonly begin in puberty and but tend to affect people aged between 20 to 45 years of age. Migraine affects approximately one in six women and one in 12 men.

“This is a major stride in migraine science,” said David W. Dodick, president of the American Headache Society, and professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, and the director of the Headache Program in Phoenix, Arizona. Underscoring the significance of the findings, Dr. Dodick said, “It is the first study to identify a genetic risk factor for the common subtypes of migraine, and provides some support for the general concept of migraine as a state of brain hyperexcitability. It also supports previous research findings on the potential role of glutamate in migraine , as well novel glutamate modulating drugs that are currently being tested in migraine. Further work may provide insight into the precise molecular mechanism(s) of migraine as well as future targets for novel therapies.”

The team found that patients with a particular DNA variant on Chromosome 8 between two genes — PGCP and MTDH/AEG-1 — have a significantly greater risk for developing migraine. It appears that the associated DNA variant regulates levels of glutamate — a chemical, known as a neurotransmitter, which transports messages between nerve cells in the brain. Prevention of the build up of glutamate at the synapse (space between nerve endings) may provide a promising target for novel therapeutics to ease the burden of the disease, according to Dr. Dodick. Although researchers have in the past described genetic mutations giving rise to rare and extreme forms of migraine, this is the first time a team has identified a genetic variant giving rise to the common forms of the condition.

The American Headache Society® (AHS) is a professional society of health care providers dedicated to the research and treatment of headache and face pain. The American Migraine Foundation (AMF) is a non-profit foundation of AHS. The mission of AMF is to support innovative research that will lead to improvement in the lives of those who suffer from migraine and other disabling headaches.

To arrange an interview with Dr. Dodick please contact:

Martha Cid/Cynthia Goldstein

212-539-3258 / 212-539-3273

Joyce Yaeger


2 thoughts on “Breakthrough news involving migraine”

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  2. Could you define the source of your statistics?

    According to the original Nature Genetics article “8% of males and 17% of females in the European population” suffer from migraines.

    Interestingly, according to a review in the National Geographic, the genetic regional variation in question occurs in 25% of migraine sufferers as well as 19% of the general european population studied. Surely this suggests a more complex interplay of molecular interactions and regulatory mechanisms affecting the pathophysiology observed.


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