Washington, April 18 : A study on two diverse populations of Finnish and Australian people has uncovered the first conclusive evidence linking genetics to migraine susceptibility.
Professor Aarno Palotie, who is associated with both Finland-based University of Helsinki and the UK-based Sanger Institute, says that his team used a new analysis technique in the study, which concentrates on different symptoms of migraine.
He revealed that the study included 1700 migraine patients and their close relatives from 210 Finnish and Australian migraine families.
The researcher further said that the initial genome-wide micro-satellite study was followed up by an independent targeted replication study.
Palotie said that the research unveiled one gene locus on chromosome 10q23, which showed significant evidence of genetic linkage in both populations studied as well as in the replication study.
The gene locus was especially strongly linked to female migraine patients, say the researchers.
"In a further analysis, two independent previous studies, one Finnish and one Australian, had detected the same locus, but in those studies the level of evidence had been just below significance, and thus the connection had so far been missed," says Verneri Anttila, a researcher from Palotie's group.
The locus is thus linked to migraine in a total of 4000 migraine patients or their close relatives.
"All of these findings depended on the newly discovered aspect of migraine genetics: different types of pain - such as pain that pulsates or pain that is unilateral - are more closely linked to specific genetic loci than general pain," Palotie says.
The study's findings are important because Finland and Australia are genetically distant, according to the researchers.
What signifies the robustness of evidence pinpointing the susceptibility region is the fact that the study tied together previous research-the Finnish families had been ascertained through neurology clinics, while the Australian families had been collected through a twin study.
"This study is the first international collaboration as well as the largest linkage study in migraine to date. It successfully applied new analysis strategies in detecting the locus and thus paved the way for subsequent large association studies", Palotie and Anttila say.
The researcher duo says that the study gives new hope to deciphering the migraine pathways, and therefore discovering targets for future treatments and the first migraine gene variants.