Biological Roots of Migraine Identified In Large Scale Genome Study

Gene Skull

12 genetic regions have been identified with migraine susceptibility (1)

How does a migraineur look to you when not experiencing a migraine attack?  I suspect you would say, ‘I had no idea ABC suffered migraines at all’ or ‘s/he looks fit and fine to me’. Correct. Both times…and that is what makes migraine as a neurological disorder very hard to study by researchers. The underlying pathologies and biomarkers are just not present during a non-episode.

To work around this problem, a team of international researchers at Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute worked on 29 different genomic studies, including over 100,000 samples from both migraine patients and control samples – the best way we think to study neurological disorders like migraines and epilepsy and understand it’s biology.

12 regions of migraine susceptibility were identified out of which:

  • 8 regions were found in/ near genes known to play a role in controlling brain circuitries;
  • 2 regions were associated with genes that are responsible for maintaining healthy brain tissue;
  • Some regions of susceptibility lay close to a network of genes sensitive to oxidative stress, a biochemical process that results in the dysfunction of cells.

According to Dr Gisela Terwindt, co-author from Leiden University Medical Centre, “This large scale method of studying over 100,000 samples of healthy and affected people means we can tease out the genes that are important suspects and follow them up in the lab.” (2)

Besides this, the team also identified an additional 134 genetic regions potentially related to migraine susceptibility though statistical evidence backing it were not very strong. However, there have been other studies that exhibit that these statistically weaker culprits can play an equal part in the underlying biology of a disease or

As per Dr Mark Daly, from the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, “Effective studies that give us biological or biochemical results and insights are essential if we are to fully get to grips with this debilitating condition. Pursuing these studies in even larger samples and with denser maps of biological markers will increase our power to determine the roots and triggers of this disabling disorder.” (3)

SOURCES:

  1. Image credits: Human Head With DNA Structure; FreeDigitalPhotos.net;Victor Habbick; Web June 2013; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms.php?id=10073380
  2. Getting to Grips With Migraine: Researchers Identify Some of the Biological Roots of Migraine from Large-Scale Genome Study; Science Daily News; Web June 2013; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130623144952.htm
  3. Getting to grips with migraine; Cambridge Network; Web June 2013; http://www.cambridgenetwork.co.uk/news/getting-to-grips-with-migraine/

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