Two drugs which are used to treat and prevent migraines have been recently tested to understand what effect they have on migraine sufferers (Silberstein, 2017).
The research has shown that a chemical in the brain – calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) – is involved in both pain and sensitivity to sound and light in migraines. CGRP is a chemical within the brain which when released, causes blood vessels in the brain to expand and become inflamed. This is what causes the pain which comes with a migraine (Gallagher, 2017).
The two clinical trials which have been carried out, tested Erenumab and Fremanezumab antibodies and have published their results (Silberstein, 2017). The idea of the study was to understand which of these antibodies would neutralise the CGRP. The antibodies work by either sticking to CGRP, or by blocking the part of a brain cell with which it interacts.
Erenumab was trialled on 955 patients with episodic migraine. At the start of the trial the patients had migraines on an average of eight days a month. The study found 50% of those given the antibody injections halved their number of migraine days per month. About 27% did have a similar effect without treatment, which reflects the natural ebb and flow of the disease (Silberstein, 2017).
Fremanezumab was trialled on 1,130 patients with chronic migraine. About 41% of patients halved their number of migraine days compared with 18% without treatment (Silberstein, 2017).
Prof Peter Goadsby, who led the Erenumab trials at the NIHR research centre at King’s, told the BBC: “It’s a huge deal because it offers an advance in understanding the disorder and a designer migraine treatment.” He said other data, not published in the latest studies, suggested a fifth of patients had no migraines at all after treatment (Goadsby, 2017).
Gallagher, J. (2017). Migraine therapy that cut attacks hailed as ‘huge deal’. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-42154668. Last accessed 30th Nov 2017.
Silberstein, D. (2017). Fremanezumab for the Preventive Treatment of Chronic Migraine. The New England Journal of Medicine. 377 (1), p2113-2122.
Whiteman, H. (2017). Migraine breakthrough: New drug halves attacks. Available: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320224.php. Last accessed 30th Nov 2017.