Tuesday, June 18 2013, 08:00 AM MDT
Utah Researchers Make Discovery That Could Help Migraine Patients
By Cristina Flores
(KUTV) Emily Bates, a professor and researcher at BYU, is part of a Utah team that recently discovered a new gene that helps explain how migraines happen. Bates, who started having migraines as a child, said the discovery is “hope” for others whose lives are turned upside down by migraine symptoms.
Dr. K.C. Brennan, a neurologist at the University of Utah, is also part of the team that made the discovery. He said it’s a big step toward the development of medications that will treat migraines specifically. Until now, he said patients are mostly given medications that are meant to treat other diseases. “This is a disease that doesn’t have medications for it,” he said. Brennan said migraine patients have long been neglected, even called crazy. “Migraine affects mostly women, as a result, it was ignored for many years,” he said noting that by far, most migraine patients are women.
Brennan said the research will help people understand that migraine symptoms are “a real disease” that can seriously disrupt people’s lives. He describes it as an irritability of excitability of the brain that happens when it responds to stresses like bright lights, an exam or even a visit by the in-laws. He said some migraine headaches are light, others severe and often there are other symptoms like vomiting, loss of vision or even hallucination-type experiences. “In a person with migraine, their volume knob has turned up to an 11,” he said.
The discovery of a new gene will help researchers zero in on the most common type of migraines that affect millions of people but Brennan said with science, there must be patience. A medication to treat the disease is years away. “But it’s exciting. [The discovery] gives us hope. It gives us a handle and something we can follow to develop drugs specifically for this disease.”
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)