A collaboration of scientists have studied over 50,000 people and they haveidentified the first-ever genetic risk factor associated with common types of migraine. This study will open the door as to what triggers migraines and preventative and migraine therapy. The patients with a particular DNA variant on Chromosome 8 between two genes, PGCP and MTDH/AEG-1, are at a much greater risk for developing a migraine.
The team of researchers also discovered a potential theory for this link, the DNA variant regulates levels of glutamate, a chemical, known as a neurotransmitter, which transports messages between nerve cells in the brain. An accumulation of glutamate in nerve cell junctions, also known as synapses, in the brain may play a key role in the initiation of migraine attacks. Prevention of the build up of glutamate at the synapse may provide a promising target for novel therapeutics to ease the burden of the disease.
Migraine affects about one in six women and one in twelve men, and is estimated to be the most expensive brain disorder to society. A United States report says that its economic costs are similar to those of diabetes and WHO lists it as one of the top 20 diseases with years lived with disability (YLDs). So this study will hope to bring great relief to everyone involved.
“Although we knew that the EAAT2 gene has a crucial role to play in neurological processes in human and potentially in the development of migraine, until now, no genetic link has been identified to suggest that glutamate accumulation in the brain could play a role in common migraine,” says co-senior author of the study Professor Christian Kubisch of University of Ulm, Germany (previously at the University of Cologne where he conducted his research for this study.) “This research opens the door for new studies to look in depth at the biology of the disease and how this alteration in particular may exert its effect.”
A migraine attack in an adult can last anywhere between a few hours to two to three days. The pain is moderate or severe and can either be localised to one side of the brain or pulsing. The migraine attack may be accompanied with nausea and may be produce an intolerance of normal levels of light and sound. Normal levels of physical activity may also increase the severity of the symptoms.
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