A new migraine drug could soon be introduced to the market which researchers claim could half the length and intensity of migraine attacks. The new drug erenumab, which blocks the neural brain pathway called CGRP, has been called “the start of real change” in effectively treating migraines. Erenumab has been trialed on 1000 patients and resulted in an average reduction of between three and four migraines each month. The duration of attacks was also cut by at least 50% in half the tests.

Over 8 million people in the UK suffer from migraines each year, which is higher than those affected by asthma, diabetes and epilepsy combined. The condition has been linked to increased risk of depression, as well as costing the economy over £2billion a year in sick days.  Current migraine medication like triptans can cause a range of side effects in patients, including fatigue, racing heartbeat, nausea and difficulty concentrating.

The trial compared migraine sufferers taking the drug for six months to those taking a placebo drug. A reduction of 50% was seen in patients taking the drug and only 26% in those taking the placebo. Simon Evans, chief executive Migraine Action, said:

“Migraine is too often trivialised as just a headache when, in reality, it can be a debilitating, chronic condition that can destroy lives. The effects can last for hours, even days in many cases. An option that can prevent migraine and that is well tolerated is therefore sorely needed, and we hope that this marks the start of real change in how this condition is treated and perceived.”

Professor Zameel Cader, Director of the Oxford Headache Centre added that “Broadly speaking I think this is a very interesting study and I think it is a good step forward for the field and I think it is a good day for migraine sufferers. Placebo responses [in migraine studies] are quite high and I think that is partly due to the subjective nature of pain and because of the strong psychological effects that being treated have on that experience of pain and those symptoms.”

Cader is planning to run his own trials using antibodies, saying that he is excited about the breakthrough and that the new approach could see a massive improvement in the amount of side effects seen in patients. The new trial drug could also help to provide a more convenient and effective method in the treatment of migraines. He added that “This is probably the first example of a migraine preventing drug that was rationally designed, rather than serendipitously found”

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