New drug could help with migraines

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
September 1, 2009 12:40:37 PM PDT
Anybody who's had a migraine, or knows someone who gets them, knows how debilitating they can be. A new drug is trying to alleviate the pain.

47-year-old year old Maxine Robinson has had migraines since age 12. The pain is triggered by her period, by cheese and chocolate.

"It's like a pounding headache, light affects your eyes, you just want to turn off the radio, and the television," says Robinson.

Standard drugs called The Tryptans didn't work at all, so Maxine signed up for a study of experimental drugs, one which is called CGRP blocker.

"It's the first new treatment advance in many years and it offers important advantages over Tryptans," said Dr. Richard Lipton of Montefiore Medical Center.

Advantages such as preventing migraine headache that often happen hours after taking a Tryptan. CGRP blockers have fewer side effects than Trytans. They can be taken by heart patients, and that's not always the case with Ttryptans.

Migraines happen when brain blood vessels dilate, they expand, an expansion triggered by food, menstrual cycles and stress.

The CGRP blockers work by blocking a single chemical that causes migraine pain. They block the chemical from dilating brain blood vessels.

And at the same time, they prevent that chemical from signaling the pain center deep in the brain.

It's a one-two punch that's knocked out the pain for migraine sufferers like Maxine. The drug has been tested for just a year, and the long-term side effects are unknown, but for Maxine, so far so good. "This drug has helped me a lot compared to other drugs I've taken. Within two hours of taking it, the migraine is gone," she said.

Dr. Lipton says that the present trial results will be presented soon at scientific conferences, and he says it may be on the market within the next two years. It's presently not approved by the FDA.

For more information visit the National Headache Foundation at or the National Institute of Health at

STORY BY: Eyewitness News medical reporter Dr. Jay Adlersberg

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