Washington: The key to curing unbearable migraine headaches may lie with the people of Norfolk Island, scientists say.
Led by Professor Lyn Griffiths from the University’s Griffith Health Institute, the team has identified a new region on the X chromosome that is responsible for playing a role in migraine.
The research provides compelling evidence for a new migraine susceptibility gene involved in migraine.
The study also indicated that there may be more than one X chromosomal gene involved and implicated a gene involved in iron regulation in the brain.
All females have two X chromosomes whilst males have an X and a Y chromosome.
“These results provide more support for the role of the X chromosome in migraine and may explain why so many more females suffer from the disorder,” Professor Griffiths said.
Tracking down and identifying the various genes that cause migraine is very important as it provides insights to develop better means of diagnosis and more targeted treatments.
“Currently, 12 percent of the population suffers from migraine. Even though we have some very good treatments for this very debilitating disease, they certainly don’t work for everyone and can have some adverse side effects. Hence there is a real need to develop new migraine treatments,” Griffiths said.
This National Health and Medical Research Council funded work involved a unique population study of the remote Norfolk Island where 80 percent of inhabitants are able to trace their ancestry back to the famous historical event, The Mutiny on the Bounty.
“This population was used due to its unusual pedigree structure in which genetic relationships can be traced through genealogical data to the island’s original founders, and also the high incidence of migraine sufferers in this population. It’s very useful for gene mapping purposes because of the reduced genetic and environmental diversity,” Professor Griffiths said.
A comprehensive chromosome analysis of around 300 Norfolk participants from a large multigenerational Norfolk family, including many who are affected by migraine, was conducted using DNA samples obtained from the islanders.