Keeping Your Head Clear
April 25, 2014

Keeping Your Head Clear

Oh the joys of migraines. Mostly, the ones I get are not all that bad in as much as I am able to tolerate them. Put me in a dark, quiet space for a while and it will go away. I do not really take anything for them. I just bear with them as they come up. Every once and a while, though, a real nasty one comes up out of nowhere and pretty much puts me out of commission. On days like that, I hope that someday a more effective migraine medication is on its way.

Well, my prayers may have been answered. Twice.

Just recently, two new migraine drugs went through phase II studies, meaning while they are not yet available, they are confident enough to do human trails. The first one is ALD403 and the other is LY2951742, and what these two drugs both have in common is that they are based around preventing migraine attacks from happening rather than simply stopping one once it has already started. These are the first trail tests of monoclonal antibodies and both of them target a relatively new area in migraine prevention, namely the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). While CGRP has long been believed to be somehow important to migraines, there have never been any drugs that specifically target this particular protein.

The phase II trial of ALD403 involved 163 participants who suffered from migraines between five and 14 days per month – and I someone who only gets them occasionally, I pity these poor people – who were given either a placebo or a single IV dose of the new drug. All of them were then followed for the next 24 weeks in order to observe the results. Between the two groups, there were no differences in side effects, but the benefits were easy to spot. Those who had received the actual drug and not the placebo had an average of 5.6 fewer migraines per month than normal, a 66 percent decrease on average, and sixteen percent of them reported no migraines at the twelve week mark of the trail, while none of those participants who had been given the placebo were free from having migraines at that point.

The other study that tested LY2951742 consisted of 217 people who reported to have migraines four to 14 days per month who were given biweekly subcutaneous injections of either the drug or a placebo for 12 weeks. Those who received the drug were said to have an average of 4.2 fewer migraine days per month, a 63 percent decrease, however those who received the drug did occasionally have some side effects including pain at the injection site, upper respiratory tract infections, and abdominal pain, though overall it has been deemed safe and well-tolerated by most.

According to Dr. David Dodick, MD, of Mayo Clinic Arizona in Phoenix, member of the American Academy of Neurology, and author of both of these studies, “Migraine remains poorly treated and there are few effective and well tolerated treatments approved that prevent attacks from occurring. There is a huge treatment need for migraine, the third most common and seventh most disabling medical disorder in the world.”

I could not agree more.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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