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HeadWay Issue #206 Will Research in Genetics Transform Treatment?
October 21, 2021

In this issue:

Will Research in Genetics Transform Your Treatment?

How You Can Help Today!

Say what?! Whole Exome Sequencing

Will Research in Genetics Transform Your Treatment?

You might have already guessed that this will be a more technical newsletter, but you may still find some practical tips, and there is something practical you can do to help.

How do you choose a treatment for migraine? It might not be the best way, but often we choose a treatment after reading a persuasive article or advertisement, or because Aunt Jenn recommended it.

Perhaps a more scientific method is to choose a treatment that has good evidence behind it - that is, it tends to work well for a lot of people. But of course, those people may not be like you.

Your doctor will hopefully take a more customized approach - what's best for you personally? Unfortunately, that information is somewhat limited, although there are some treatments work better for certain types of migraine.

What your doctor may do is treat you based on other conditions that you have. For example, maybe there's a medication that could treat your depression and your migraine attacks.

But although this may mean taking only one pill instead of two, it doesn't necessarily mean you're getting the best treatment for both conditions.

Is there a better way?

These last two strategies are not bad - they've helped a lot of people, and they do help narrow down the many many treatments that are available today. But they also demonstrate that there is still a large amount of trial and error when it comes to treating you personally.

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to get a blood test, or a genetic test, that would quickly tell you which treatments would most likely work for you?

That brings us to study published in March in Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine: Genetic variants related to successful migraine prophylaxis with verapamil

How did the study work? Basically, researchers will studying the genetic profile of patients who did or did not respond well to a certain migraine treatment - verapamil. The question being, basically - is there a measurable genetic reason why verapamil works better for person A?

The answer seems to be "yes".

This is only the beginning of what could be a massive research project. But here's what it could mean to you and I. You're diagnosed with migraine, and you have a genetic test done. Now, instead of trying the 5 medications that seem to work best in clinical trials in general, you're given a different list - 5 treatments that work best with people with your specific genetic markers. Theoretically avoiding several trial-and-error treatments (with all their side effects) which probably had a low chance of helping you in the first place.

So stay tuned for more research of this kind, which truly could transform migraine treatment.

A practical side-note

One more note that the researchers made. They presented verapamil very much as the dark horse - the underdog - the less-mentioned migraine treatment - which actually may deserve a lot more attention. If you're still searching for the best treatment for you, verapamil may be worth a try, either for migraine or cluster headache. Read more about verapamil here.

How You Can Help Today!

This new report was from a "first of its kind for migraine" study. More like it are needed - but they all cost money.

So we're especially thankful for the Migraine Research Foundation, which helped to fund it!

Would you consider giving a few dollars to the MRF right now? If you do, I will too!

No, actually, I will do so right now - and I encourage you to join me!

Support New Migraine Research Here

Say what?! Whole Exome Sequencing

This new study into migraine genetics was started using whole exome sequencing. "Exome" refers to all the exons in the genome. I know, this is getting more helpful by the moment.

Basically, whole exome sequencing allows researchers to quickly map and identify variations in a person's DNA.

Many people don't realize that the original method of completely mapping a person's DNA could take years. Yes, we're pretty complicated! But whole exome sequencing can be completed in a matter of weeks, drastically reducing the time and the cost.

Here's an article from MedlinePlus with more information: What are whole exome sequencing and whole genome sequencing?

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
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