WELLINGTON — New Zealand scientists claim they have made a breakthrough in helping to develop new medicines to treat debilitating migraine headaches.
Researchers at the University of Auckland have published new findings on the discovery of a potential new drug target for the treatment, Xinhua news agency reported.
Existing drugs to treat migraine, a common neurological disorder, have proved ineffective for many or have significant side effects.
Current strategies for developing new migraine treatments were based on the knowledge that sufferers had elevated levels of a pain-causing hormone called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).
A class of drugs called gepants, developed in recent years to block acute migraine attacks, worked by blocking CGRP activity at the CGRP receptor.
But the researchers found that another receptor, called AMY1, also played a critical role in CGRP activity during migraine attacks.
“We have discovered that CGRP activates a second target on the surface of pain-sensing nerve cells, called AMY1, which the gepants are not designed to block,” associate professor Debbie Hay said in a statement.
“This may be the key to treating migraine and opens the door for the design of new drugs that block this second target,” Hay said.
The scientists said more research was required into exactly how CGRP and AMY1 worked in nerves that were involved in pain in the head.