The World Health Organization has classified headaches as a major health disorder and has rated migraines amongst the top 20 most disabling lifetime conditions. Recently however, a new therapy has been hailed as a breakthrough in this problem. Sputnik spoke with Migraine Action, a UK based charity organization about this treatment.
Two clinical trials have shown that a new approach to preventing migraines cuts the number and severity of attacks as the treatment uses antibodies to change the activity of chemicals in the brain.
“This new therapy provides people with hope, as there are many people affected by migraines that have tried all the medications currently available but nothing seems to help them. These new groups of drugs are made specifically to help prevent migraines as they are designed to block the CGRP receptor, which plays a critical role in migraine activation,” Migraine Action told Sputnik in an interview.
The two new antibodies are called Erenumab and Fremanezumab. The clinical trials on two of the antibodies have now been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Erenumab which is made by Novartis, was tested on 955 patients who suffered from episodic migraines. The results showed that 50% of those given the antibody injections halved their number of migraine days per month. About 27% did have a similar effect without treatment, which showed the natural timing flow of the disease.
Fremanezumab made by Teva pharmaceuticals, was tested on 1,130 patients with chronic migraines. About 41% of patients halved their number of migraine days compared with 18% without treatment, the journal reported.
The researchers at King’s College Hospital hailed the result as a “huge deal.”
Talking about the effects of this new therapy, Migraine Action told Sputnik, “Erunumab has been shown to be effective for those suffering from episodic and medication overuse headache and for a number of people where previous treatments have failed.”
The organization also noted that migraine is an extremely debilitating condition, and it is not “just a headache”, as it affects the whole body and can result in many symptoms.
“A severe headache may be common, especially in adults, but other symptoms may be more prominent, for example, nausea and / or vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, sound or smell, neurological symptoms — often referred to as the ‘aura’ [visual disturbances, confusion, tingling or numbness in the limbs],” the Migraine Action said.
Furthermore, it can affect people of all ages, even young children and from all sectors of society, although around two-thirds of people suffering from migraines are women.
The severity of the migraine attacks may result in people being unable to work, eat and stay bed ridden for hours or even days at a time.
“Migraine attacks normally last between 4 and 72 hours and migraineurs are symptom-free in between attacks. On average migraineurs experience around 13 attacks a year, but some experience up to two attacks a week and may be bedridden for much of this time,” the organization said.
It further added that there is no test for migraines and diagnosis can be difficult, depending on the story and pattern of attacks but the new therapy is very encouraging.
“Having a treatment option that can prevent migraines and that is well tolerated is greatly needed and we hope that this marks the start of a real change in how this condition is treated and perceived,” Migraine Action said.