London, June 11 : Scientists have made a major breakthrough in migraine therapy by developing new anti-migraine drugs with fewer side effects, which according to them, will soon hit the markets.
These drugs would have an upper hand on existing therapies, said scientists, who developed these drugs, owing to improved understanding of the mechanism that makes the brain over-react to stimuli.
Peter Goadsby, leader of the headache group at the Institute of Neurology, University College London, said that this step would help them welcome a new era in management of this debilitating condition.
Migraine is a hereditary illness that affects 15 per cent of all adults, and is caused by an "oversensitive" brain, which reacts to triggers such as fatigue, hunger, stress or the weather with a throbbing, one-sided headache, often accompanied by nausea and visual disturbances. It is three times more common in women than in men.
Out of the new drugs, one is a rescue treatment known only by its code MK0974, and it works by disrupting the series of chemical reactions in the brain that cause a migraine and that too at a different point from existing drugs.
According to studies, the brain releases the chemical calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) during a migraine. While the drugs that are in use these days, called triptans, block the release of the chemical, one of the new drugs, called a CGRP antagonist, obstructs the uptake of the chemical by neighbouring nerve cells.
The results of the final trial indicate that MK0974 reduces pain and is far better at preventing the return of the migraine over 24 hours in comparison to existing triptan drugs, of which the best known is sumatriptan.
"[MK0974] is very well tolerated and does really well compared with current treatments. It is going to be an important advance. We are well on the way to having a totally novel way of treating migraine," The Independent quoted Goadsby, as saying.
The results of the final trail will be presented to the American Headache Society.