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Scientists develop promising new drug to combat migraines

Tuesday 5th December 2017
The number and length of migraines that patients suffer could be significantly reduced thanks to a new drug designed to neutralise chemicals in the brain. Image: MaximFesenko via iStock
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Scientists believe that a drug with the power to prevent the onset of migraines is just around the corner for the UK pharmaceutical market.

Doctors at King's College London have been conducting clinical trials of a treatment that is able to neutralise a person's level of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), a chemical found in the brain. When CGRP levels are higher, patients can be more sensitive to both light and sound, increasing the risk of a migraine.

Initial trials involving the new drug were found to halve the number of migraines suffered by 50 per cent of study participants, bringing them down to just one a month and providing doctors with hope that there may be a way to eliminate the risk of migraines altogether in the future.

The new drug uses antibodies to neutralise chemical activity in a patient's brain, which can help to prevent a migraine.

Speaking to BBC News, Professor Peter Goadsby of King's College London commented: "It's a huge deal because it offers an advance in understanding the disorder and a designer migraine treatment.

"It reduces the frequency and severity of headaches. These patients will have parts of their life back and society will have these people back functioning."

Four pharmaceutical firms are now working to develop antibodies that are able to neutralise CGRP levels, such is the potential for patients and the wider industry. For example, Novartis' treatment erenumab has also been shown to halve the number of migraines suffered by around 50 per cent of patients.

What's more, neutralising CGRP levels could help to significantly reduce the length of these extreme headaches.

However, the next step is to conduct further trials to assess the long-term effects of taking such a drug to ensure that it is as safe as possible for patients.

It is believed that one in seven people across the globe are affected by regular migraines, so this new type of therapy has the potential to enhance millions of people's lives.

Written by James Puckle

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