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Jul 28
Monthly dose of new antibody may halve migraine attacks
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.

Jul 28
Sleep problems may indicate multiple
Scientists have found that multiple sclerosis (MS) may be identified at least five years earlier as the patients were more likely to undergo treatments for nervous system disorders like pain or sleep problems, according to a study.

MS results from the body's immune system attacking myelin -- fatty material that enables rapid transmission of electrical signals -- which disrupts the communication between the brain and other parts of the body, leading to vision problems, muscle weakness, difficulty with balance and coordination, and cognitive impairments.

"The existence of such `warning signs` are well-accepted for Alzheimer`s disease and Parkinson`s disease, but there has been little investigation into a similar pattern for MS," said lead researcher Helen Tremlett from the Division of Neurology at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

"We now need to delve deeper into this phenomenon, perhaps using data-mining techniques. We want to see if there are discernible patterns related to sex, age or the `type` of MS they eventually develop," Tremlett added.

For the study, published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal, the team examined health records of 14,000 people with multiple sclerosis and compared them to the health records of 67,000 people without the disease.

Fibromyalgia -- a condition involving widespread musculoskeletal pain -- was found more than three times in people who were later diagnosed with MS as compared to those who did not.

Irritable bowel syndrome was almost twice as common in people who developed the disorder. Migraine headaches and any mood or anxiety disorder, which includes depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder were also found in higher rates among the group.

Further, higher rates of these illnesses also correspond with higher use of medications for musculoskeletal disorders, nervous system disorders, and disorders of the genito-urinary tract, along with antidepressants and antibiotics.

The findings may enable physicians to diagnose the disease earlier and start the treatment, thus possibly slowing the damage it causes to the brain and spinal cord.

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