Migraines: Experimental New Drug Helps Stop Them Before They Start

First Posted: Jun 19, 2015 02:44 PM EDT

Statistics show that roughly 36 million Americans suffer from migraine attacks; that's more than asthma or diabetes combined. About four million of these patients also suffer from Chronic Migraines, meaning they can experience up to 15 days of migraines a month.

New findings presented at the American Headache Society examine a new class of drugs called Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide (CGRP) monoclonal antibodies. Research shows that the drugs are promising in the treatment of high-frequency episodic migraines and chronic migraines.

The new class of therapeutics work by reducing elevated levels of the peptide calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), also known as a key driver of pain experienced during a migraine. Versions of anti-CGRP therapies are being tested by Alder pharmaceuticals, Amgen, Teva pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly and Company.

"Up till now, migraine patients have had limited choices for preventive treatment. Now four pharmaceutical companies are showing positive results in human trials targeting CGRP mechanisms," study author Peter J. Goadsby, MD, PhD, who is chair of the scientific program of the American Headache Society's annual Scientific Meeting, said in a news release.

Teva reported that the drug achieved a significant reduction in the number of headache hours just after one week with more than half of patients in each arm experiencing a 50 percent or greater reduction in headache frequency, according to results presented at the American Headache Association. Amgen reported that it reduced the number of migraine days by 50 percent in close to half the treated patients in just about 12 weeks while Lilly found that it could help prevent migraines over a placebo used in trials.

Though Alder Pharmaceuticals didn't present any new information regarding the drug at this time, it had promising information regarding phase 2 study results.

If the drug is proved successful, many patients suffering from migraines would receive a monthly injection to prevent symptoms.

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