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New migraine drug might succeed where others failed

April 19 (UPI) — People with migraines unable to find relief from standard drug treatment might find success with a new drug, according to results of a recent clinical trial.

Researchers found that erenumab prevented migraine’s onset among patients who had tried two to four other treatments. Researchers plan to present their work at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Los Angeles, which starts Saturday. Their preliminary findings were released Tuesday.

Migraines are the most common neurological disorder in the United States, affecting 39 million people, and about 1 billion worldwide, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.

People with migraines experience moderate to severe pain on one or both sides of the head, as well as nausea or light sensitivity, lasting from four hours to three days. Many can have up to 14 headache days a month.

“The people we included in our study were considered more difficult to treat, meaning that up to four other preventative treatments hadn’t worked for them,” study author Dr. Uwe Reuter of The Charite- University Medicine Berlin in Germany said in an AAN press release.

The Liberty drug trial, supported by Novartis Pharma AG, was conducted between Jan. 16, 2017 and Jan. 18, 2018. The drug’s brand name is Aimovig.

Erenumab, which is a monoclonal antibody, blocks pain signals by attacking receptors for calcitonin gene-related peptide. Erenumab becomes part of nerves to which CGRP would usually bind.

“Our study found that erenumab reduced the average number of monthly migraine headaches by more than 50 percent for nearly a third of study participants,” Reuter said. “That reduction in migraine headache frequency can greatly improve a person’s quality of life.”

In the study, 246 adults age 18 to 65 were given injections of 140 milligrams of erenumab or a placebo once a month for three months. They experienced an average of nine migraine headaches a month and took acute migraine medicine to stop an attack five times a month.

People treated with erenumab were nearly three times more likely to have reduced migraine days by 50 percent or more than those receiving placebo. Thirty percent of participants given erenumab had cut their number of headaches in half, compared to 14 percent given a placebo.

For those given erenumab, migraine days were reduced by 1.6 times more than those given a placebo and acute medication days were reduced by 1.7 times more than participants given a placebo.

The safety and tolerability of the new drug was similar to placebo, researchers said, and none of the participants stopped treatment due to side effects.

“Our results show that people who thought their migraines were difficult to prevent may actually have hope of finding pain relief,” Reuter said, suggesting studies longer than three months will need to be conducted to understand the patients most likely to benefit from the drug.

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