Scientists Identify Migraine Chromosome | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 10.09.2005
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Scientists Identify Migraine Chromosome

The millions of people suffering from migraine headaches can now breathe a collective deep sigh of relief. Medical researchers in Bonn and Kiel have discovered a genetic mutation responsible for the pain.


Headache sufferers will benefit from research on the cause of migraines

Shut all doors and windows, turn out the lights, lie on your back and hope the pain doesn't get worse. Headache sufferers in Germany number 14 million, according to health insurance provider AOK. Any news of relief is sure to meet with great approbation.

Genetic mutations in chromosome 1 could be an important key to understanding the predisposition of the most common type of migraine, according to a report recently released by AOK.

Clinical scientists have long known that migraines were hereditary, but the exact location of the irregularity that causes them was unknown. Christian Kubisch of the Human Genetics Institute of the University of Bonn and Hartmut Göbel of the Kiel Pain Clinic studied headache-prone patients over a four-year period with an eye to locating the problem chromosome.

The research team discovered the gene mutation which impedes the ability of neurotransmitters to fire. This interruption can cause the energy supply of the neuron to malfunction, leading to a "derailing" of the neuron's function. Faulty messengers are then released, which cause a throbbing, excruciating headache.

Regular diet recommended

Göbel said the research results would be of great assistance in diagnosing and treating migraine patients. He recommended maintaining a natural, circadian rhythm and avoiding sudden changes in stimulation. A regular diet with plenty of carbohydrates and vitamin B2 can help to provide sufficient energy for nerve cells, he said.

In addition, migraine headache patients should practice relaxation training, biofeedback therapy and stress-management training. These tactics can help to alleviate the over-stimulation of nerve cells and reduce their energy consumption.

For the 99 percent of migraine sufferers whose headache is caused by the mutation of this chromosome, the news from German medical researchers is surely more than welcome. Perhaps this medical knowledge can one day lead to a cure for the migraine.

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