Results from 3 new studies could bring hope to people who suffer from migraine headaches.
In one of the studies, scientists identified the gene they believe may cause migraines. Two other studies discovered possible new treatments for migraines. The studies are unrelated, but were all released within the last few days.
The gene study, published by Nature Medicine, found that a gene called TRESK regulates the sensitivity of pain nerves in the brain. If TRESK does not work as it should, the person would have a very low threshold for pain in those nerves. It’s hoped that scientists can learn how to alter the gene to raise the pain threshold to a point that the pain is eliminated.
Dr. Zameel Cader, from the Medical Research Council Functional Genomics Unit at the University of Oxford, said “We are really excited about this. It’s a once in a generation find that could one day lead to treatments that could prevent migraines.”
Another study looked at aspirin injections as a treatment for migraines. Doctors as the University of Southern California in San Francisco found that injecting liquid aspirin directly into the bloodstream is as effective for the treatment of migraines as more expensive drugs. The amount of aspirin injected was 10 times what an average person would take for a headache or joint pain.
The third study, completed by Dr. Joel R. Saper, M.D., founder and director of the Michigan Head Pain and Neurological Institute, documented that 39% of the patients in his study reported a decrease of symptoms, either pain or frequency, after Occipital Nerve Stimulation (ONS). The study was small, with 66 patients enrolled. But Dr. Saper stated “The positive impact ONS had on the migraines in these severely impaired study participants is promising and supports the need for ongoing study of this therapy.”
Migraines are one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Over 30 million Americans suffer from painful migraines. Women are 3 times more likely than men to have them.