Cape Argus (Cape Town)

23 February 2010

South Africa: 'Breakthrough' in Migraine Research

Migraine specialists are hoping for a better treatment for migraines following a "breakthrough" study that found that the chemical responsible for the headaches was actually not in the brain, but in an artery.

According to South African migraine scientist Dr Elliot Shevel, one of the specialists who made the discovery, the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), the chemical responsible for migraines, had long been believed to originate in the brain.

But Shevel recently discovered this was not the case, following a study he conducted with an Italian professor of neuropsychiatry, Dr Carlo Cianchetti.

The project was partly funded by the South African and Italian governments.

Shevel, who is the chairman of the SA Headache Society, said the chemical had always been known to be one of the main chemicals associated with migraines. It is usually found in raised levels in the blood of migraine sufferers, but despite this knowledge the origins of the pain had remained a mystery.

Shevel said: "The discovery of CGRP in raised levels in these tissue samples is a major breakthrough in that we now have a chemical and physical explanation for the pain of migraine. This breakthrough heralds a new era of far superior migraine medications."

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