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Currently, there’s no known cure for migraine. But scientists continue to learn more about this condition every day. Read on to learn more about recent developments in migraine research and treatment options.
To help prevent migraine symptoms, researchers have been developing new medications that target a protein known as calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).
CGRP seems to play an important role in the development of migraine symptoms. It helps your body transmit and respond to pain signals.
According to recent research, monoclonal antibodies that target CGRP can help reduce the number of days that people with migraine experience symptoms.
In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved three drugs that target CGRP for the prevention of migraine:
- galcanezumab-gnlm (Emgality)
- erenumab-aooe (Aimovig)
- fremanezumab-vfrm (Ajovy)
Researchers are also developing and testing other medications that interfere with the activities of CGRP. More of these targeted therapies might become available in the future.
Triptans are a class of medications that have been used to treat migraine for decades. They bind to certain types of serotonin receptors in your body, known as 5-HT1Band 5-HT1D receptors. This binding action causes pain-relieving effects.
Triptans can help ease the symptoms of migraine in many people, but they don’t work consistently for everyone. They can also cause serious side effects in people with heart disease.
To provide a potential alternative to triptans, scientists have been developing and testing a closely related class of medications known as 5-HT1F receptor agonists. This class of medications includes an experimental drug known as lasmiditan.
Several studies suggest lasmiditan may help relieve symptoms of migraine, including head pain.
Although more research is needed, this drug might provide a safe treatment option for people with heart disease. Researchers are currently conducting phase III clinical trials to learn more about its effectiveness for treatment and safety.
Medications aren’t the only treatment available to manage migraine. Certain types of noninvasive brain stimulation have also shown promise.
For example, a review published in 2016 found some evidence that transcutaneous direct current stimulation (tDCS) may reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine symptoms.
In tDCS, low-intensity electrical currents are used to stimulate parts of your brain. This treatment is noninvasive, painless, and quick to administer.
Likewise, some evidence suggests that transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) may also relieve migraine symptoms. TMS uses brief magnetic pulses to stimulate your brain. Like tDCS, it’s noninvasive, painless, and quick to use.
Although more research is needed to learn how effective these treatments are, multiple commercial devices are already available to administer tDCS and TMS.
In addition to developing and testing new treatments, scientists have also been studying the underlying causes of migraine and the mechanisms of migraine symptoms. In time, this might help them develop more effective and personalized treatment approaches.
For example, researchers are using advanced imaging technologies and neurophysiological studies to learn about the different phases of migraine.
Identifying the molecules and processes involved in each phase might help researchers create new targeted therapies. It might also help them learn how to optimize existing treatment approaches.
Genetic studies have also allowed scientists to identify multiple genetic mutations that are associated with migraine. In turn, scientists might be able to use this knowledge to learn and predict how different people with migraine will respond to different treatments.
For example, a recent study found that triptans may provide inconsistent relief to people with migraine who test positive for certain genetic markers.
Scientists are working hard to understand migraine, develop targeted therapies for this condition, and make the most of treatments that already exist.
To learn more about the latest treatment options, talk to your doctor. They can help you learn if new medications or other treatments might make a difference for you.