According to a pilot study results released yesterday (17th of April 2018), a new drug may help provide relief to people with migraine that is unsuccessfully treated with the currently available drugs.
Researchers have developed Erenumab, which belongs to a human monoclonal antibody class of drugs that can block calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). This CGRP is a molecule that can transmit the signals of pain during an attack of migraine. According to experts, blocking CGRP can prevent the onset of a migraine attack before it even starts. Researchers have found that a long lasting injection of the new drug can prevent the onset of the migraine attacks by blocking the CGRP.
Migraine. Image Credit: svershinsky / Shutterstock
Migraine affects over thirty-seven million Americans according to the American Headache Society. Around 4 million Americans suffer from chronic migraine which means they have attacks of debilitating headaches for at least 10 to 14 days in a month. Treatment includes over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and also stronger medications such as sumatriptan and ergotamine. Migraine is essentially caused by dilatation of the blood vessels around the brain that leads to intense headache, nausea and dizziness. Sumatriptan and ergotamine help to constrict these blood vessels and thus ease the pain. These drugs however may not be effective in all people with migraine.
Lead author of the study Dr. Peter Goadsby, professor of neurology at Kings College London, UK and University of California, San Francisco said that this is the first time a drug can effectively prevent the attacks of migraine. He said that this drug will change the treatment for people who do not respond to the traditional treatments available for migraine.
The study involved adults with chronic migraine who had four to fourteen attacks of migraine per month. Those with over 15 attacks per month and who have failed to respond to treatment with drugs such as topiramate, propranolol and amitriptyline were included in this study. The new drug was used among the participants.
This study included 246 participants who were given 140 mg of erenumab or a placebo once in a month for three months. Of these 39 percent had earlier been treated unsuccessfully with two other anti-migraine medications, 38 percent were earlier treated with three other medications and 23 percent were unsuccessful with even four medications. At baseline the participants had an average of nine migraine headaches per month and had to use a drug to curb an acute attack at least five times a month.
The results revealed that in over a third of the study participants the monthly migraine attacks were reduced by more than half. Patients experienced a three times more chance of reduced migraine days by 50 percent after being treated with the new drug for three months compared to those who were treated using a placebo. The number of days that the patients needed to stop the attacks of migraine were also significantly reduced in these patients. Number of days with headaches also reduced substantially. None of the patients who were put on the new drug Erenumab had to discontinue the drug because they experienced side effects. The study was supported by Novartis Pharma AG.
The makers hope that this new drug would get a green light from the Food and Drug Administration this year. The cost of the drug is estimated to be around $10,000 annually at present. The study results would be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 70th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, between April 21st and 27th, 2018.