Shout Out for Good Mainstream Media Coverage of Migraine Research
Most of the time when mainstream news outlets discuss migraine disease they get it wrong. They reinforce stereotypes, refer to treatments as cures, use the outdated term migraine headaches or get so excited about unproven treatments that they lose all credibility with people living with migraine. So when a news outlet like the Wall Street Journal gets it mostly right, they deserve a shout out.
This week the Wall Street Journal covered migraine disease and did a commendable job. Not only did the reporter acknowledge the reality of insufficient research funding for migraine and headache disorders, she did a great job explaining some of the most exciting research developments.
Much of the article is focused on information about research related to CGRP and a category of drugs known as CGRP receptor antagonists.
CGRP stands for calcitonin gene-related peptide. CGRP is found throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. Researchers believe CGRP serves a number of functions including regulation of motor function and pain signaling and other neurological-related activities in the body.
Researchers have found in a number of studies that people experience a rise in CGRP levels during a migraine attack. Increased levels have been observed in patients' cranial blood and saliva during migraine attacks. Prototype CGRP receptor antagonists have been shown effective in aborting migraine attacks when given to patients intravenously.
Unfortunately getting even a single CGRP receptor antagonist medication to market has proven difficult for drug companies. The medication that made the most progress toward being available to patients, telcagepant, was abandoned by Merck in 2011 after elevated liver enzymes were observed in study participants taking the medication.
CGRP receptor antagonists could be life changing for thousands of migraine patients. Because they are not vasoconstrictors, they could be used in patients who cannot safely use triptans. Triptans are vasoconstrictors and as a result cannot safely be used by patients with certain risk factors like heart disease. Researchers also believe it is possible that CGRP receptor antagonists could be used in conjunction with triptans to give patients who can use triptans broader relief.
By informing the general public about inadequate research funding for migraine and other headache disorders and the exciting developments that could be furthered with adequate research funding, the Wall Street Journal did great things for migraineurs this week. We can only hope more high profile news outlets will follow their lead.
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