If you’re one of the nearly 35 million Americans who suffer from recurrent migraine headaches, you’re quite familiar with the different treatments that are available. Depending on what triggers an attack and the severity of the symptoms, a course of treatment can prove to be relatively ineffective.
So what’s the best way to treat (or prevent) migraine headaches? Researchers and pain specialists have been trying answer this for years and the results have often been disappointing.
This is why we’ve been so intrigued by this new injectable therapy that is being tested in mid-stage migraine clinical trials.
How Does This Injectable Therapy Work?
It was designed to use antibodies to target a specific protein called CGRP. Why? This bodily protein plays an important role in dilation of blood vessels located in the brain. While researchers still aren’t sure how CGRP affects migraines, two crucial elements are clear:
- Your CGRP levels increase rapidly during a migraine attack.
- These levels drop back down as symptoms subside.
Who’s Developing this New Migraine Therapy?
A form of this injectable therapy is being developed by four pharmaceutical companies:
- Eli Lilly
- Teva Pharmaceuticals
- Alder Biopharmaceuticals
The key is this specialized antibody that binds itself to CGRP molecules and stops them in their tracks. Their research teams theorized that this could have a significant impact on a person’s migraine symptoms.
The results so far have been promising. In each research study, migraine symptoms improved for about half of the participants. Data suggests that the treatment could reduce your migraine attacks by half.
While this isn’t a cure for migraine headaches, it’s an exciting development. We’re interested to see if similar results can be duplicated in larger migraine clinical trials. Positive results would likely lead to an FDA approval for this new type of treatment, meaning that it could be available to you by 2018.
Preventing Migraines Before They Begin
If you get recurrent migraines, then you’ve spent time thinking about what triggers your symptoms and what you can do to prevent future attacks (have you heard about the migraine buddy app?). Unfortunately, avoiding your migraine triggers is not easy.
On top of that, existing therapies aren’t always consistent and many have side effects that are problematic. A single migraine headache can put someone out of commission for more than a day.
A new treatment option for migraine headaches is exciting, especially when it shows promise as an effective method of prevention. Eli Lilly and the other pharma companies are developing their new treatments as preventative therapies, meant to be taken on a monthly or quarterly basis in order to keep attacks at bay.
Targeting CGRP Isn’t Exactly a Novel Approach
An important factor to note is that this isn’t the first time researchers have set CGRP in their sights. In fact, the protein’s impact on migraines was first documented 30 years ago. Pharmaceutical companies spent years trying to develop a drug that could block the protein.
Merck saw the most success with their anti-CGRP pill. However, their effort ended in a massive disappointment 5 years ago. After investing more than $1 billion in developing their experimental migraine headache drug, researchers discovered that it had a toxic effect on the liver in late-stage clinical trials. Development was discontinued.
So what makes this new therapeutic approach safer for migraine sufferers? It’s the use of antibodies. Scientists believe that they can block CGRP without producing harmful side effects. The results so far seem to back this up.
Some Questions Still Remain…
As with any new development, there are still issues that need to be addressed. We’d like to learn why only half of the study participants aren’t responding to the CGRP antibodies. Researchers haven’t identified any common trait among these participants yet, but a genetic test might provide valuable insights.
Additionally, more research is needed to establish the safety of this migraine treatment. There haven’t been any serious side effects reported yet, but the CGRP antibodies have only been tested with 1,500 participants for a period of 12 weeks.
It’ll take a couple years to determine their overall safety.
Why Has Progress in Migraine Research Been So Slow?
The fact is that even incremental progress would be viewed as a significant leap forward in the field of migraine research. Why? Advancement has been slow in part because a stigma surrounding this medical condition.
Since migraine headaches were long viewed as a psychosomatic condition, research funding was hard to come by.
Our research team is conducting migraine clinical trials and we could use your help. By taking part in a research study in DeLand, Florida, you’d be helping to develop new treatments like the CGRP antibody injection.
You can also learn more about your condition and what you can do to prevent future attacks.
The fact is that advancements in migraine research wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the people who take part in clinical trials. If you’d like to learn more about our studies, please click here or give us a call at (386) 785-2400. We also recommend checking out this update on the Association of Migraine Disorders.