So if we’ve identified the genes that are causing migraine, doesn’t that mean we’re close to a cure?
Don’t let the news headlines confuse you. Although we’ve come a long way, it’s not like we’ve discovered a “switch” in the brain that we can now “flip” to “turn off” migraine – or chronic daily headache – or cluster…
Photo courtesy of dullhunk
At the European Headache and Migraine Trust International Congress, Dr. Tobias Kurth (a Director of Research at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research) took the time to clarify with some wise words:
Whenever there is a new genetic study, you can easily become almost convinced that now we have the gene and we can treat migraine better. No! Currently there is no indication to test migraine patients for specific genes. It wouldn’t help you at all in terms of treatment or prognosis.
Make no mistake: We have achieved a lot over the last years, and many groups continue to do extraordinary work. However, we all have to realize that we still don’t know the precise mechanisms involved in genetic markers of migraine. We haven’t really shown that having these genes is a predictive tool that can tell patients that they will get migraine, or if they have it what their disease course will be.
This is an important reminder – and it’s not all bad news. Here are a few things to note regarding migraine and genetic research:
- We still don’t know the whole genetic story when it comes to migraine.
- Even if and when we know the whole genetic story, that will still only be a part of the migraine story. In other words, it’s quite possible we’ll never find a simple “genetic migraine switch” – the story will be more complex.
- We ARE learning a lot about how migraine works from this new genetic research.
- As we understand more about the migraine chain reaction, we are able, here and now, to start developing new treatments based on the new information.
- We are also already able to understand more about migraine and how it impacts patients and interacts with other conditions (such as cardiovascular disease).
Yes, get excited about migraine genetic research. But don’t let your cousin think that the latest news report means you’ll be cured next week if you only go to the right doctor.