A vaccine against the headache announced.
Headache, who has never suffered from it? It is a very common problem, maybe underestimated, which regularly affects 15% of the world’s population, or 2 billion and a half people, often solved with the use and abuse of drugs. According to the World Health Organization WHO data, generic headache is the second disease by number of diagnoses, after dental cavities.
The World Health Organization classifies around 200 types of headaches classified depending on the symptoms and the cause: it can occur with or without aura, it can be tension-type, primary or cluster without forgetting secondary headaches, due to external factors such as trauma, bereavement, cancer, separations with symptoms of all kinds: in the most acute cases there may be nausea and vomiting, excessive sensitivity to light, smell and sound, confusion and loss of balance.
The causes are diverse: genetic predisposition, family history, hormones, abuse of drugs like antidepressants, anxiolytics, antiepileptics and beta-blockers, as well as abuse of painkillers that, in the long run, could exacerbate the problem or at least raise the threshold of sensitivity to drugs.
However, a revolutionary treatment, developed by San Raffaele Pisana in Rome, could help prevent chronic migraine of a specific and selective type through the use of an “intelligent” laboratory-produced antibody which neutralizes a physiological substance called CGRP (Calcitonin Gene Related Peptide), the excess of which is involved in migraine.
It will be the first institute in Europe to treat a patient with chronic migraine with Anti-CGRP monoclonal antibodies going beyond the prophylactic practices of headaches so far implemented through “recycled” drugs, ie drugs used to treat other diseases and accidentally shown to be effective for headaches.
“The experimental results published so far”, explains Prof. Piero Barbanti, head of the Centre for the diagnosis and treatment of headaches and pain of IRCCS San Raffaele, “are very promising and show a decrease in attacks greater than 62% after 3 months and a high percentage of responders (74%). The antibody is injected subcutaneously once a month for several consecutive months and tolerability seems to be extremely good, unlike most of preventive treatments used so far which can induce drowsiness, fatigue and weight gain”.
For the moment, the experimental treatment is only intended for patients with chronic migraine (ie with at least 15 days of headache per month for at least 3 consecutive months) but in the second half of 2016 similar treatments are expected at IRCCS San Raffaele for episodic migraine patients.
High hopes for migraine sufferers, even though, says Prof. Barbanti “Treating a complex headache can never be translated into ‘give me a cure’ because the patient requires close monitoring of the attacks, a containment of improper use of painkillers and treatment of possible situations (stress, depression, anxiety) associated”.