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New genetic risk factors for migraine have been discovered in the largest genetic investigation of migraine to date


More than 120 regions of the genome have been linked to migraine risk, according to researchers. The pioneering discovery helps researchers better understand the molecular foundation of migraine and its subtypes and potentially speed up the hunt for novel therapy of the ailment, which affects over a billion persons globally.

More than 120 areas of the genome have been linked to migraine risk, according to an international group of renowned migraine researchers. The ground-breaking findings will aid researchers in better understanding the molecular foundation of migraine and its subtypes, perhaps speeding up the quest for novel migraine treatments. Migraine affects over a billion people worldwide.

Researchers have more than quadrupled the number of known genetic risk factors for migraine in the biggest genome analysis of migraine yet conducted. Two of the 123 genomic areas discovered include target genes for migraine-specific medicines that have recently been developed.

Leading migraine research organizations from Europe, Australia, and the United States collaborated in the study, pooling genetic data from over 873,000 study participants, 102,000 of whom experienced migraine.

The new results, which were published in the journal Nature Genetics on February 3, 2022, revealed a lot more about the genetic architecture of migraine subtypes than was previously known.

Migraine pathogenesis is influenced by neurovascular processes.

Migraine is a fairly prevalent brain illness that affects over a billion people throughout the globe. Migraine has no known etiology, however it is thought to be a neurovascular condition involving disease processes in both the brain and the blood vessels of the head.

Previous study has revealed that hereditary factors contribute greatly to the migraine risk. However, whether the two primary migraine forms — migraine with aura and migraine without aura — have a genetic foundation has long been a point of contention.

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Researchers from the International Headache Genetics Consortium put together a large genetic dataset to perform a genome-wide association study (GWAS), seeking for genetic variations that were more frequent in people who experienced migraine in general or one of the two primary migraine categories.

The findings revealed that migraine subtypes share risk variables as well as risk factors that seem to be unique to each subtype. Three risk variants that seem to be unique to migraine with aura and two that appear to be specific to migraine without aura were identified in the studies.

“Our research gives the first substantial chance to assess shared and different genetic components in the two major migraine subtypes,” said Heidi Hautakangas of the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, University of Helsinki, who was the paper’s lead author.

Furthermore, the findings backed with the theory that migraine is caused by both neuronal and vascular hereditary factors, confirming that migraine is a neurovascular condition.

It has the potential to lead to novel migraine treatments.

Because migraine is the second leading cause of years spent disabled throughout the world, there is an obvious need for novel therapies.

The discovery of genetic risk areas comprising genes that encode targets for newly identified migraine-specific therapies was especially intriguing.

Genes encoding calcitonin gene-related peptide, a protein implicated in migraine attacks and inhibited by the recently developed CGRP inhibitor migraine medicines, are found in one of the newly identified areas (CALCA/CALCB). Another high-risk area includes the HTR1F gene, which codes for the serotonin 1F receptor and is a target for future migraine treatments.

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“These two new associations near genes that are already targeted by effective migraine drugs suggest that there could be other potential drug targets among the new genomic regions, and provide a clear rationale for future genetic studies with even larger sample sizes,” said Dr. Matti Pirinen, a group leader from the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, University of Helsinki, who led the study.

The study included researchers from Australia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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