London: In a breakthrough, scientists have found an antibody, a monthly dose of which could halve the number of debilitating attacks of migraine on patients who have exhausted all other treatments.
The findings showed that people treated with erenumab were nearly three times more likely to have reduced their migraine days by 50 percent or more than those treated with placebo.
Those treated with erenumab also had a greater average reduction in the number of days they had headaches and the number of days they needed to take drugs to stop the migraines.
"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. That reduction in migraine headache frequency can greatly improve a person's quality of life," said Uwe Reuter from The Charite - University Medicine Berlin in Germany.
Erenumab is a monoclonal antibody that blocks pain signals by targeting a receptor for calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).
This peptide transmits migraine pain signals. Erenumab occupies the nerves to which CGRP would usually bind.
"Our results show that people who thought their migraines were difficult to prevent may actually have hope of finding pain relief," Reuter added.
The preliminary results will be presented at the forthcoming American Academy of Neurology's 70th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.
For the study, 246 people who had episodic migraine were given injections of either 140 milligrams of erenumab or a placebo once a month for three months.
Of the participants, 39 per cent had been treated unsuccessfully with two other medications, 38 per cent with three medications and 23 per cent with four medications.
A total of 30 per cent of the people treated with erenumab had half the number of headaches compared to 14 per cent on placebo.
For those on erenumab, there was an average 1.6 times greater reduction in migraine days and a 1.7 times greater reduction in acute medication days compared to those on placebo.
In addition, the safety and tolerability of erenumab was similar to placebo. However, more research is now needed to understand who is most likely to benefit from this new treatment, Reuter said.