Over 12% of the world's population suffer from migraines, with women making up two-thirds of sufferers. The attacks are not only highly unpleasant for sufferers, but are also costly for employers and health services. Annual costs are estimated at €10 billion for the EU alone.
Although the problem is widespread, the available treatments are unsuccessful in more than half of patients. The migraine community is therefore desperate for possible treatments, and has demonstrated this by participating in EUROHEAD's research.
Coordinators of the recently-concluded EU-funded project EUROHEAD spoke to CORDIS News about the discoveries made in the project and the impact that it has had on the migraine research community worldwide.
A cure for migraines is still some way off, but the EUROHEAD team does now have a much better understanding of how genes are involved in the triggering of a migraine, and how the trigger threshold can be reduced.
There is compelling evidence that cortical spreading depression (CSD) is responsible for the 'aura', the visual disturbances that often accompany migraines. The EUROHEAD team now believes that it could also be responsible for the onset of migraines themselves.
Several thousand migraine patients participated in the research, including twins and families in which migraines are common. Crucial to the success of the project was the involvement of people who suffer from a monogenic subtype of migraine, in which one sole gene is responsible for the condition. Five or six years ago there was just one pool of patients with the monogenic migraine subtype. The EUROHEAD team has now identified far more families in which the condition runs, and has also identified new syndromes.
Much of the research was done using cellular models, but animal models and human volunteers were also involved. Cellular models enabled the team to see what effects the genes had on cells at microscopic level. When investigating how the cells interact, the animal models were needed. 'We could never have done this if we had stuck to single cells. The two models were complimentary,' explains Dr Arn van den Maagdenberg of Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.
Brave volunteers in Denmark had an attack triggered by a team at Glostrup University Hospital using nitric oxide. The method developed in Glostrup is successful in triggering migraines in 60% to 70% of sufferers. Asked about these volunteers' readiness to have a migraine triggered in the name of science, Principal Investigator Michel Ferrari was very positive: 'The migraine population as a whole is very happy with initiatives like this. They feel they are being taken seriously. It has been established that this is a real disease,' he says.
While EUROHEAD has shown migraine-sufferers that they are being taken seriously, it has also indicated to the world that Europe should be taken seriously as a centre of excellence for migraine research. 'Europe is already the centre of excellence for migraine research. It is striking that, in other medical areas, the US is leading, but not in this area,' says Dr Ferrari. Moreover, most of the important research groups in this field were members of the EUROHEAD consortium.
The team has been contacted by researchers in every continent interested in collaborating on future research. Many have even sent genetic material from new families of migraine-sufferers. The EUROHEAD team is following up on the invitations that it has received, and many joint publications are in the pipeline.
EUROHEAD is currently experiencing what Dr van den Maagdenberg refers to as the 'magnet effect'. 'Everybody's looking at EUROHEAD as the experts on migraines,' he said.
Dr van den Maagdenberg welcomes the critical mass, the integration of research teams and the momentum created by EUROHEAD. When the right call is published under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the team will apply for further funding with the ultimate aim of finding a cure for the migraine.
Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University
The first analysis of Ewing's sarcoma methyloma opens doors to new treatments
01.12.2016 | IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy