Testing is proceeding on a new migraine drug. I know, you hear that all the time – but this one is a little different. It’s a new type of drug, called a gap junction blocker. Gap junctions are important – everybody has them. They’re like little highways (or junctions) between your cells. Along those highways molecules can travel, allowing information to be passed on. Hormones, ions, neurotransmitters – these are all things that may travel the highway.
For example, a signal is passed along to the cells in your heart – "Ok everybody – contract!" and your heart muscle contracts, all of it at the same time.
Because we believe that incorrect messages are being passed along during a migraine attack, many migraine medications are focused around dealing with these signals.
On Friday, a company called Minster Pharmaceuticals announced that it was going to work together with the University of Copenhagen and Danish Headache Centre at Glostrup Hospital to evaluate the use of a new drug, a gap junction blocker, known as tonabersat. A phase II study will begin to see if tonabersat is a good preventative drug for migraine with aura.
This is no out-of-the-way study – it will be led by world renown neurologist Professor Jes Olesen, former president of the International Headache Society. He believes that this drug may be a unique migraine preventative that can be well tolerated by patients. The Minster website says that it could turn out that "gap junction blockers would represent the first major advance in treatment of migraine since the introduction of Imigran in the early 1990s."
It will be interesting to see how the research progresses in the months ahead. It may or may not be a major breakthrough, but it’s one to keep your eye on.