The Secret of CGRP

Do you want to be on the inside track?  Well, it’s all the buzz in the world of migraine research.  But it has yet to be tamed.  It’s the CGRP.

We’ve often talked about migraine attacks as chain-reactions.  Or maybe more accurately, a web of chain reactions.  Though no one knows exactly why some people have migraine disease and some don’t, or why a migraine attack really starts, we do know some things that happen in a migraine attack.

Not just symptoms – things that happen in the body and the brain.

So at this point, a lot of migraine research is focused on stopping the chain-reaction that takes place.

For example, we know a lot of things that happen minutes – hours – even days before the actual headache phase of the attack (disclaimer: not every migraine attack includes a headache.  Trust me, I’ve been there.).

Researchers are especially interested in stopping the attack before the headache begins.  That could end a lot of suffering all over the world, migraine being one of the world’s top 20 disabilities according to the UN.

CGRP’s Little Secret

Thanks to The Graffiti Creator

That brings us to those four little letters you need to remember – CGRP.  CGRP is the focus of a lot of attention these days – and it’s been the focus of a lot of news stories – even though you might not have noticed it.

The letters stand for calcitonin gene-related peptide neurotransmitter.  Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are constantly sending messages within your body.

Of course, there are a lot of chemicals that may be involved in a migraine attack.  For example, glutamate, tyramine and melatonin.

But CGRP has caught special interest because it’s so specific – it doesn’t seem to impact other brain functions the way some other neurotransmitters do.

Blocking CGRP also has a history of success.  For example, blocking CGRP may be one reason triptan drugs work (although we had no idea that was the case when they were first developed!).

And other drugs have been researched with some success – though not enough success to make it to your local pharmacy – such as Telcagepant.

CGRP seems to send messages that have to do with pain.  Among other things, CGRP sends messages to the trigeminal nerve, which is key in the migraine chain-reaction.  What if CGRP could be blocked – and the chain reaction stopped?

After some initial let-downs, research continues.  According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, Bristol-Myers Squibb is involved in several "early stage studies" on ways to block CGRP.

Not only could blocking CGRP stop a migraine in its tracks — maybe we could block it to prevent migraine attacks from starting in the first place.  Researchers are trying to develop artificial antibodies that can stop CGRP from delivering its message of pain in the first place.

So, to honour the ongoing research, and to burn the name of this neurotransmitter into your brain, I’ve written this little ditty (with apologies to Village People).  Stand up and do the actions – GIMME A C!


Young man, there’s no need to feel down.
I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.
I said, young man, if you’re migraine-bound
There’s no need to be unhappy.

Young man, there’s a way you can fight.
I said, young man, are you seein’ the light.
If they can block it, then I’m sure you can find
Many ways to have a good time.

We need to stop all that C-G-R-P.
We need to block all that C-G-R-P.

It’s causin’ you pain, sets your head all aflame
Just remember this refrain …

We need to stop all that C-G-R-P.
We need to block all that C-G-R-P.

It’s a neurotransmitter, that we need to outsmart
Let’s all be doin’ our part …

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3 comments… add one
  • sherry Jul 19, 2014

    love the song ! we’ll all be singing it if they ever get these CGRP blockers approved and available to use.

  • Jill Oct 6, 2017

    Very good explanation of CGRP and what it does! Thanks for all you do.

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