Researchers discover first genetic risk factor for common migraines

The study examined the genetic data of more than 50,000 people and could open the door for therapies to prevent migraine attacks, said researchers.

Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom have exposed the first genetic risk factor for common migraines.

The study, outlined on Sunday, examined the genetic data of more than 50,000 people and could open the door for therapies to prevent migraine attacks, said researchers. Researchers have found genetic mutations for rare and extreme migraines, but this discovery is the first for common forms.

According to the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, researchers found "that patients with a particular DNA variant on Chromosome 8 between two genes - PGCP and MTDH/AEG-1 - have a significantly greater risk for developing migraine."

Meanwhile, the DNA variant appears to regulate glutamate levels. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that transports messages between nerve cells in the brain. An accumulation of glutamate in nerve cell junctions may start migraine attacks.

Theoretically, future medicines could aim to prevent the build-up of glutamate. Migraines (fact sheet) affect one in six women and one in 12 men. The economic costs of migraines rival diabetes.

The researchers compared the genomes of more than 3,000 people from Finland, Germany and The Netherlands with migraine 10,000 folks without migraines to spot differences. To check findings, researchers compared the genomes of a second group of more than 3,000 patients with more than 40,000 healthy people.

While researchers say the discovery could lead to new therapies for migraines more studies are needed.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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