Migraine usually involves severe head pain and often it is associated  with other symptoms including nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light or sound. It affects one in every five women and around one in every 15 men. Around half of all sufferers have a close relative with the condition, suggesting that it may be genetic.

Migraine is too often trivialised as just a headache when, in reality, it can be a debilitating, chronic condition that can alter the live course of the sufferer including career outcomes, losing jobs and affecting married relationships. 

Around 8.5 million people in Britain suffer migraine, and there are 200,000 attacks every day in the UK, costing UK economy £2.25 billion per year in lost work days. The World Health Organisation rates migraine as one of the top 10 causes of disability.

Symptoms can be so severe that lying in a darkened room is the only relief for  the throbbing pain and nausea. 

Treatment of migraine is in two categories:

  1. Treating the acute attacks of migraine by trying different brands of Triptans; such as Sumatriptan.
  2. Migraine prophylaxis:
  1. Beta blockers.
  2. Tricyclic anti-covulsants; such as Amitriptyline and Nortriptyline.
  3. Anticonvulsants; such as Topiramate.
  4. Calcium channel blockers; such as Flunarizine.

Migraine sufferers have been offered new hope after trials showed a designer drug cuts the number of attacks in half. The once-a-month injection, which can be delivered at home, blocks brain molecules linked to migraine, and is the first new preventative therapy in 20 years.

However the new drug, called Erenumab, appears to slash in half the number of days lost to the condition for many patients, a breakthrough which charities said marked ‘the start of a real change’ for sufferers.

The new treatment is an antibody designed to block the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor in the brain, which plays a crucial role in sparking a migraine.

CGRP is a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, which instructs the brain to activate sensory nerves in the head and neck.

Previous research found that CGRP is present in unusually high levels during a migraine attack, which is thought to cause overstimulation.

The latest trial involved 955 patients who received a monthly injection of the drug, or placebo, over 24 weeks.

On average patients injected with Erenumab experienced three fewer migraine days each month compared to their usual average of eight days. For 50 per cent of patients their number of attacks was cut in half.

Patients treated with the drug also reported improved physical health and ability to participate in daily activities over the six month trial period as well.

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