Published: Wed, April 18, 2018
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Monthly dose of a new antibody may halve migraine attacks

Monthly dose of a new antibody may halve migraine attacks

Sometimes, severe migraine interferes with a person's daily activities.

"The people we included in our study were considered more hard to treat, meaning that up to 4 other preventative treatments hadn't worked for them", said study author Uwe Reuter, MD, of The Charité-University Medicine Berlin in Germany.

Erenumab (brand name Aimovig) works by blocking a key brain "neurotransmitter" chemical that sends out pain signals, the research team explained.

Results unveiled at the American Academy of Neurology in Los Angeles showed patients taking Aimovig had almost three-fold higher odds of having their migraine days cut by at least 50%, with more than twice as many patients the drug achieving this reduction compared with placebo.

Currently, under review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a decision on the approval of the drug will be announced on May 17. One U.S. migraine specialist was enthused by the findings. He's an adjunct neurologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and wasn't involved in the new trial.

It is a monoclonal antibody able to block pain signals by targeting a receptor for calcitonin gene-related peptide, or CGRP, which transmits pain signals.

The new study was funded by drug maker Novartis.

Roughly 8.5million people in Britain suffer from migraines, three quarters of them women, with attacks lasting between four and 72 hours.

Patients in the Aimovig group also experienced statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements in secondary goals including reduction in monthly migraine days, decrease in use of migraine drugs, 75% and 100% reduction in monthly migraine days, and improved physical function.

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The study is the first to test a CGRP drug in this hard patient population, involving 246 patients who had previously experienced two to four treatment failures.

Out of the 250 people treated with erenumab, it halved the amount of headaches in nearly 30% of the participants.

The results revealed that in over a third of the study participants the monthly migraine attacks were reduced by more than half. Number of days with headaches also reduced substantially. It's called erenumab, and in a series of tests, it cut down the frequency of headaches among migraine sufferers by half. The same was true for only 14 percent in the placebo group.

The drug was found to be as safe as the dummy drug, with no one stopping the drug during the trial due to side effects. "That reduction in migraine headache frequency can greatly improve a person's quality of life", Dr. Reuter said.

"Our results show that people who thought their migraines were hard to prevent may actually have hope of finding pain relief", Reuter added.

What's the next step? He said that this drug will change the treatment for people who do not respond to the traditional treatments available for migraine.

The researchers added that larger studies are also needed to evaluate the long-term safety and effectiveness of the medication.

The research will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology later this April.

Migraines are the sixth most common cause of disability around the world, and are strongly linked to depression and work absenteeism.

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