Research at the University of Vermont has led to the discovery of a new gene involved in migraines, and doctors hope it will one day lead to new therapies for migraine sufferers.
More than 60 million Americans suffer from the condition which is a brain state that often leads to disabling headaches. Migraines can be accompanied by severe pain, visual auras, one-sided temporary paralysis, nausea, communication problems, and sensitivity to light and sound.
A team led by UVM neurologist Dr. Robert Shapiro found a gene called CK1 delta connected to migraines. But a lack of federal research dollars means new medications may be a ways off.
"The focus at the National Institutes of Health has never been on migraine and our estimates-- or calculations based on World Health Organization data-- based on the burden of disease is that among major illnesses migraine is by far the least funded, the most neglected of any major disease that the National Institutes of Health is responsible for trying to help manage. And we're trying to change that. The good news is that we have an extraordinary group-- members of the congressional delegation from Vermont-- and a lot to be proud of Sen. Sanders, Leahy and Congressman Welch have all been really the champions to try to change that," Shapiro said.
Shapiro notes that just one new drug to treat migraines has been developed in the last 50 years. He's hopeful his gene discovery and future funding will lead to more.
Shapiro was honored with two national awards this year for his research and his advocacy for migraine patients.
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