One in seven Americans suffers from migraine headaches, but startingly medications like blood-pressure drugs and antidepressants currently prescribed to prevent them, actually don’t work for many people. But in the USA two recent studies offer a glimmer of hope for those who haven’t previously respond well to existing treatments. A new type of drug has reduced migraine frequency and severity by up to 50% in some people, based on late stage clinical trials.
For reference two recent studies were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. In a trial of 955 people with migraines, one study tested the effectiveness of the drug Erenumab. This drug is co-developed by companies Novartis and Amgen.
A second study involved Teva Pharmaceutical’s Fremanezumab, with a test of its effectiveness on over 1,130 people. These two drugs have been formally submitted to the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) for approval. Each manufacturer is attempting to, both in 2018, introduce Erenuman and Fremanezumab to the global market.
Both drugs (Erenumab and Fremanezumab) are monoclonal antibodies. That is they ar lab-produced drugs that mimic immune cells in the body by binding to specific proteins. Again with both drugs, they target a substance called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). This substance is released by the body during migraines.
Scientists are not sure specifically how (CGRP) influences migraine pain, but they suspect it alters blood-vessel activity and nerve sensations in the brain. In their process, by blocking this peptide they hope to reduce or prevent migraine occurrences in people.
What is important to note is that in these new studies, they each reflect that antibody therapies are not appropriate for all people. Equally important is the fact that they were able to help a subset of people who hadn’t responded to other types of medications. This specific fact is vitally important (‘A Big Deal’, Dr. Peter Goadsby Professor of Neurology-University College London/Co-Author Erenumab study).