“This is almost a red letter day for migraine sufferers,” was the comment made by Lee Tomkin, director of Migraine Action, in the UK Telegraph in response to news that scientists had discovered a gene called TRESK that appears to cause migraine and control pain sensitivity.
Discovery of Migraine Gene May be Life Changing
The migraine gene TRESK, which was discovered by an international study team, including scientists at Oxford University, appears to act like a switch that can control the sensitivity of pain nerves in the brain. Because this gene is susceptible to being affected by drugs, investigators believe it can be altered enough to eliminate feelings of pain entirely.
If so, this would be an enormous relief to the millions of people who suffer with migraine. More than 10 percent of the world’s population experiences migraine, and in the United States, nearly 25 percent of households has someone who has the syndrome, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.
More specifically, about 18 percent of women and 6 percent of men in the United States suffer from migraine, which equals about 36 million people. About one-third experience attacks almost daily.
Discovery of the TRESK gene is “a once in a generation find that could one day lead to treatments that could prevent migraines,” noted Dr. Zameel Cader, a consultant neurologist at the Medical Research Council Functional Genomics Unit at the University of Oxford. He went so far as to say that the finding “could potentially lead to a treatment for pain in general.”
This is the first time a gene responsible for migraine has been found. To arrive at their findings, scientists explored the DNA composition of 110 migraine sufferers and their families. They discovered that a mutation in the TRESK gene, which controls the sensitivity of pain nerves in an area at the base of the brain, appeared to be a main cause of migraine.
When the TRESK gene does not function properly, it can easily trigger centers in the brain that can cause migraine. Armed with this information, researchers can now move forward and develop new ways to prevent and treat this devastating condition and improve the quality of life of millions of people around the world.
Migraine Research Foundation