Migraine and Headache News Round-Up: June 2018

For the more than 37 million people in the United States who experience the throbbing headaches, nausea, visual disturbances and sensitivity to light collectively known as migraines, any improvement in treatment is a relief. And recently, we've seen several promising updates in the world of migraine and headache research. For Migraine and Headache Awareness Month this June, we've gathered the latest research and treatment updates for these challenging conditions.

First-of-its kind migraine treatment approved

Aimovig is the first drug to be approved to prevent migraines in people who experience them frequently.

Prior to its approval in May, the only medications available for migraines were made to treat other conditions, such as high blood pressure. These drugs don't always work well, and often come with side effects.

Aimovig is was developed based on research that began in the 1980s. Researchers found that people who experience migraine attacks have high levels of "calcitonin gene-related peptide," or CGRP, in their blood. When people prone to migraines received an injection of the peptide, it triggered a migraine. Researchers set out to make antibodies to block the peptide's activity in the body as a way to prevent migraines.

The new medication is designed to treat patients who get migraines many times a month. The New York Times spoke with Robin Overlock, who participated in the clinical trial for a similar drug being researched. During the study, she took either a placebo or the study drug. When the study ended, she started taking the active drug, and has only had two headaches since her last injection in January. Before, she was having 27 migraine days a month.

"It's definitely life-changing," Overlock told the Times.

More migraine and cluster headache prevention treatments sees promising results

One concern around the newly approved treatment is its expected high cost. Several other treatments nearing approval may help mitigate those costs if they also become available, thanks to competition in the market.

In clinical trials, one potential treatment called galcanezumab reduced migraine days by half, without major side effects. Galcanezumab targets the same peptide as the drug that was recently approved.

The same treatment may also help those with cluster headaches, which are headaches behind the eyes that cause severe pain in short bursts, for a period of days or weeks. Another treatment called Fremanezumab may soon be approved for cluster headache treatment as well.

New treatments like these wouldn't be able to reach patients without clinical trial volunteers. If you're interested in participating in migraine or headache research, search for a trial in your area below.