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A pioneering new drug is set to bring relief for millions of migraine sufferers.
Researchers at King’s College Hospital have hailed the treatment, called erenumab, a ‘huge deal’ in the breakthrough against migraine pain.
In a study conducted by the hospital, sufferers experienced just half the number of migraines they normally endured each month as the drug reduced both the frequency and severity of their headaches.
The treatment is the first specifically designed for preventing migraine and uses antibodies to alter the activity of chemicals in the brain.
Prof Peter Goadsby, who led the erenumab trials at the NIHR research centre at King’s, told the BBC: “These patients will have parts of their life back and society will have these people back functioning.”
He said other data, not published in the latest studies, suggested a fifth of patients had no migraines at all after treatment.
Currently one in seven people around the world suffer the effects of migraines – and the condition is three times more likely to be experienced by women rather than men.
Research has shown a chemical in the brain – calcitonin gene-related peptide or CGRP – is involved in both pain and sensitivity to sound and light in migraine sufferers. Doctors hope that targeting this chemical with antibodies will treat migraines, while giving the fewest possible side effects.
The Migraine Trust estimates there are more than 190,000 migraine attacks every day in the UK. Those who suffer headaches for fewer than 15 days a month have what is termed as episodic migraine, while an episode that lasts for longer than 15 days is classed as a chronic migraine.
Dr Andy Dowson, who runs headache services in Kent and London, told the BBC, “I am really enthusiastic we have something new that’s coming, but we need to know cost, who will respond and a lot more detail as we go down the line.
“Chronic migraine is in the top seven conditions for lifetime disability and yet nothing much is done about it, maybe this is going to help us to make some progress.”