A new antibody treatment designed specifically for migraine prevention has been found to cut the number of attacks in half. The drug works against a key inflammatory molecule that causes the migraines in the first place. The research was conducted at the Thomas Jefferson University in the US. The trial results were published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The treatment focuses on blocking a calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) that has been found to play a role in activating migraines. The peptide is released at high levels during migraine in response to inflammation, triggering more CGRP release and increasing the sensitivity of the brain to pain. Researcher Stephen D. Silberstein said, “This therapeutic approach offers new hope for people whose migraines cannot be treated with existing medicine.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 127 and 300 million people around the world experience chronic migraine. The condition affects nearly 15 percent of the world’s population. Chronic migraine is defined as 15 or more headaches per month for at least three months. There are very few effective treatments for migraine sufferers. Many interventions only work for a certain time before they fail to prevent or relieve pain.
The new treatment is raising the hopes of sufferers of this debilitating condition. There are currently four separate monoclonal antibody treatments being developed in this vein. Three of the four are already undergoing Phase III human clinical trials.
Erenumab, one of first drugs to fully report Phase III results, is reportedly successful in both efficacy and safety. Compared to the placebo group, study participants receiving the full dose of erenumab reported a 50 percent reduction in monthly migraine days versus a 26.6 percent reduction. Another monoclonal antibody called fremanezumab shows similarly successful results.
The trial lasted for 16 weeks, with a 12-week treatment window. For the study, researchers divided the participants into three groups. The first group received quarterly treatments, the second group received one treatment per month and the third group received placebo injections. The level of response varied between patients.
It is unclear how expensive these types of treatments will turn out to be because they are not cheap or quick to produce. Initially, this may be a very costly drug. The treatments need to be delivered as monthly injections for several months.