Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Migraine Sufferers Rejoice!

As anyone who suffers from migraines knows, they are pretty much the most terrible thing in the world. Your head pounds with the slightest movement, even the softest light hurts your vision, you could throw up at any moment, and while migraine drugs can help, sometimes the only way to cope is laying in a dark room with an ice pack on your forehead. This can be particularly inconvenient when you're at work, or out say living your life in the normal world.

I have migraines, and I've tried various cures: chewing ginger candies, taking prescription pills, over the counter Excedrin migraine, and good old fashioned curling into fetal position in bed and waiting for it to end--each with limited relief. When combined, they can be much more effective, but sometimes there's that unstoppable headache that keeps powering on through even the best medications if you don't catch the headache just as its coming on.

Yet relief may be in the future. A recent study in Nature Genetics reports that scientists have identified a gene variant among migraine sufferers that affects glutamate regulation. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter, that signals to other cells by binding on to them and activating the nerve receptor. This new study suggests that the amount of glutamate does not adjust properly for people with the gene variant, and the build up is what causes  crippling brain pain for migraine sufferers. This breakthrough may lead to prescriptions that smooth out the glutamate flow, preventing migraines rather than treating the symptoms after they arise, like they never even existed.

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