Promising results from the largest study of migraine ever undertaken were published in the journal Nature Genetics on June 23rd 2013. They mark an important new advance toward finding a future cure for migraine.
Researchers from the UK, the USA, Australia and Europe have identified five new sections of our DNA associated with the onset of migraine. They have also confirmed the importance of seven more of these ‘genetic regions’ which have previously been linked to migraines.
Scientists say the research, which looked at more than 100,000 genetic samples, offers a fresh understanding of what triggers migraines. “This study has greatly advanced our biological insight about the cause of migraine”, says lead author Dr Aarno Palotie, from the Welcome Trust’s Sanger Institute which led the research.
The team uncovered the genetic regions linked to the illness by comparing the results from 29 population studies at the University of Bristol, which involved DNA samples from both migraine patients and healthy individuals.
Of the five new and seven previously identified regions, eight are in or near genes known to play a role in controlling brain circuitry and two of the regions are connected to genes that are responsible for maintaining healthy brain tissue.
The team believes that many of the genes at genetic regions associated with migraine are interconnected and could potentially be disrupting the internal regulation of tissue and cells in the brain, resulting in some of the symptoms of migraine.
Some of the regions identified were found to be close to a network of genes that are sensitive to an imbalance of oxygen.
Thought to affect one in every seven adults, migraines have been recognised as one of the top 20 most disabling lifetime conditions and costs the British economy an estimated £2billion a year.