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New class of drugs show hope for migraines

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
New drugs in development for migraine headache

A new class of drugs is in development that could help people suffering from migraine headaches. The medications work to stop the cascade of events that lead to migraines in the first place.


The medications work to inhibit release of CGRP that is found to be elevated during migraine headache attacks and returns to normal when headaches are resolved.

The drugs that are injected have shown promise in Phase I and II clinical trials and have been well tolerated. Other medications known as triptans also target the CGRP pathway to stop migraines.

The new medications would prevent migraine headaches before they start.

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"It's very exciting, because this would be a form of prevention that might not have a lot of side effects and would be highly effective for people who have not had good treatment," explained Dr. Thomas Ward, a professor of neurology at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in New Hampshire.

The findings from clinical trial were presented at the annual meeting of the American Headache Society, in Washington D.C. Researchers say medications that block CGRP entirely could have a negative impact on the body's organs. The new class of drugs use monoclonal antibodies to target CGRP release that causes blood vessels to dilate and become inflamed.

Alder Pharmaceuticals, Amgen, Eli Lilly and Company, and Teva Pharmaceuticals are in the process of testing the drugs that could bring relief for a substantial number of migraine headache sufferers with minimal side effects. An injection could be taken once a month to stop headaches from developing.

It should be noted that the findings are preliminary. The researchers stay there are still concerns about long-term use of the migraine prevention drugs because CGRP is used throughout the body. Blocking it's action repeatedly could have unknown consequences.