Migraine study reveals new genetic insights into the condition

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The  largest ever genetic study on migraine, published in the journal Nature Genetics, points to the discovery of tens of new genetic risk variants for the condition.

Carried out by a team of members from the International Headache Genetics Consortium, which includes migraine research groups from Australia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the UK and USA, the study looked at DNA samples of 375,000 European, American and Australian participants, with almost 60,000 of them suffering from migraine.

Using this data, which was taken from 22 genome-wide association studies and included new data from around 35,000 migraine sufferers, the team was able to analyze millions of genetic variants, finding that 38 different genomic regions were associated with migraine.

Previous to this only ten of these regions were linked with a susceptibility to migraines.

The team also found that most of the areas on the genome overlapped with genes known to be associated with certain vascular diseases and involved in the regulation of vascular tone — the constriction of blood vessels — providing further evidence to the support the importance of blood vessels in migraine attacks.

Despite migraines being a common and debilitating disorder, affecting around 1 in 7 people worldwide, little is known about its causes, making it difficult to develop new treatments.

Commenting on the significance of these new findings for the future of migraine treatment Professor John-Anker Zwart from Oslo University Hospital said, “These genetic findings are the first concrete step towards developing personalized, evidence-based treatments for this very complex disease. We doctors have known for a long time that migraine patients differ from each other and the drugs that work for some patients are completely inefficient for others.”

“In the future, we hope that this information can be utilized in dividing the patients into different genetic susceptibility groups for clinical drug trials, thus increasing the chances of identifying the best possible treatment for each subgroup.”

Source: AFP Relaxnews

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