Recent advances in the preventive treatment of migraines have the potential to effectively reduce the number of migraine attacks with no serious adverse reactions.
Migraine is a chronic disorder characterized by recurring and debilitating headaches that often affect the quality of life of migraine sufferers. Current drugs that reduce headache frequency and intensity often have issues regarding efficacy, safety, and side effects. A review paper published in BMC Medicine discussed two promising treatment methods for migraine prevention that are currently being tested in human clinical trials.
Four pharmaceutical companies based in the US, UK, and Israel are currently testing antibodies that target a protein found on nerve cells that function in pain transmission. Recently published data based on clinical trials have shown that the antibodies effectively reduced the number of migraines per month in treated patients after 4 weeks of administration compared to the placebo group. Serious adverse reactions were not reported during the trials. Clinical trials with a larger group of patients are currently being done to compare the efficacy and safety of the antibody-based therapy with current treatment methods for preventing migraines.
Three companies are currently investigating a non-invasive technique for migraine prevention through neurostimulation. This technique uses electrodes that apply electric pulses to stimulate nerves in the brain and disrupt pain signals. Preliminary studies showed that daily neurostimulation for 3 months resulted in a decrease in the number of migraines per month in treated patients. The method proved to be safe as no serious adverse events were observed during the study. Neurostimulation could be an alternative treatment for migraine sufferers who have issues with oral medications.
Although the effects of long-term use of these therapies have yet to be determined, the recent developments in the preventive treatment of migraines offer a promising outlook on more effective and safer treatment options for patients.
Mitsikostas DD and Rapoport AM. New players in the preventive treatment of migraines. BMC Medicine. 2015; 13:279. Doi: 10.1186/s12916-015-0522-1
Written by Ana Victoria Pilar