CGRP stands for Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide. It is a calcitonin group compound made up of polymers of amino acid monomers. CGRP is manufactured in the human body in the nerve cells (neurons) of the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.
Research – New Migraine drugs In The Pipeline (1)
So what is the function of CGRP? Of the many functions, CGRP is a powerful vasodilator and it contributes significantly in the transmission of pain message through the body. It is also believed to play a critical role in cardiovascular homeostasis as well as in processing noxious stimuli that has the potential to damage the tissues of the heart.
The development of drugs which are essentially CGRP receptor antagonist is in the pipeline aimed at helping migraineurs the world over cull the pain of their migraine episodes. How does the CGRP receptor antagonist do this? It has been observed that during the onset of a migraine attack, CGRP binds to CGRP receptors and activates these receptors which then transmit pain signals. CGRP receptor antagonist prevents the CGRP from binding on to CGRP receptors thus circumventing the transmission of pain signals causing migraine pain.
Telecagepant was such a CGRP receptor antagonist drug developed by Merck & Co. and was undergoing Phase III clinical trials but the trials were abandoned after identification of two patients with significant elevations in serum transaminases indicating liver damage. However, similar drugs without such side-effects are now being designed. CGRP receptor blockers also significantly reduce nausea and are more desirable in total benefit than triptans. As per Peter Goadsby, MD, PhD, director of UCSF’s Headache Center, “So this is a way for it to be effective and adds a safety bonus to the patients and it seems to be better tolerated.” (2)
There is another approach to drug design and development aimed at reducing the misery of migraineurs and it comes from the side of serotonin activity. In this class, one investigational drug of note is Lasmiditan thought of by Eli Lilly & Co and being designed to treat acute migraine by CoLucid Pharmaceuticals. These drugs are technically serotonin receptor agonists and selectively bind to the 5-HT1F receptor subtype. Unlike triptans these drugs do not constrict the heart vessels and have lesser side-effects. Trials have shown that administration of this drug reduced migraines to almost nothing within a two-hour period in almost 60% of the patients also tackling nausea and photophobia beautifully. The drug is expected to be ready by 2014. As per Dr. Goadsby, “Lasmiditan is now that finished its phase two studies and clearly works. It does not have the same sort of liver effects as its predecessors and will move on into phase three. That is again for acute migraine treatment. So it is a safe and totally different action than what we currently have.” (2)
- Image by Ponsulak; Freedigitalphotos.net; March 2012;
- Cutting Edge Treatments For Migraines: More Than Just A Headache; Ivanhoe.com; March 2012;
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