Migraine researchers make 'crucial' DNA link discovery

Migraine sufferers are a step closer to getting better treatment after scientists linked genes to the onset of the debilitating medical condition.

A research team, jointly led by a Queensland researcher, identified 44 independent DNA variants robustly associated with migraine risk.

That mapped to 38 distinct genes, including 28 previously unreported.

Alongside the new discovery, the study also indicated poor blood vessel function and vascular dysfunction was a primary mechanism underlying migraine, rather than brain dysfunction with secondary vascular changes.

Queensland University of Technology's Associate Professor Dale Nyholt, who jointly-led the study, said while the exact cause remains unknown, the findings were a great biological advance.

"Finding these genetic risk factors is the first crucial step to identifying the pathways that cause migraine and then developing pharmaceuticals," he said.

"It takes quite a few years to develop pharmaceuticals, but unless you know where to start trying to develop them ... there won't be any new pharmaceuticals."

The study, published in Nature Genetics, found the risk factors by comparing eight million DNA variants between 60,000 migraine patients and 316,000 controls drawn from 22 different genomic studies.

Dr Nyholt said migraine research was difficult because between episodes, patients presented as basically healthy.

Migraine is the third most common medical condition worldwide, and patients can suffer nausea, vomiting and light sensitivity.

It ranks as the seventh most disabling condition in terms of years of life lost to disability.

Source: ABC News

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