Thursday, March 08, 2007

Possible Genetic Explanation for Migraine


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Researchers at the University of Iowa say they have found a genetic explanation for migraines. They said the interaction between a particular protein with the neuropeptide, CGRP, which has already been connected with migraines, seems to be responsible for the condition. People who get migraines are thought to have a higher level of the protein than people who do not get migraines.

Scientists Identify Protein That May Promote Migraines
A University of Iowa study may provide an explanation for why some people get migraine headaches while others do not. The researchers found that too much of a small protein called RAMP1 appears to "turn up the volume" of a nerve cell receptor's response to a neuropeptide thought to cause migraines.

The neuropeptide is called CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide) and studies have shown that it plays a key role in migraine headaches. In particular, CGRP levels are elevated in the blood during migraine, and drugs that either reduce the levels of CGRP or block its action significantly reduce the pain of migraine headaches. Also, if CGRP is injected into people who are susceptible to migraines, they get a severe headache or a full migraine.
"There is clearly a genetic difference between people who get migraines and those who do not, and we think that difference could be RAMP1. Our studies provide a reason to look for variations in the DNA that encodes RAMP1 in humans," he said.

Researchers are already trying to develop treatment medications that target what is already known about the neuropeptide CGRP. You can read more about those efforts here: A New Class of Abortive Is in Development. Perhaps this new information will help with that and the development of other prevention and treatment options.