An Australian-Indian collaboration may put an end to debilitating headaches
Do you or your loved one suffer from frequent migraine headaches? Are you experiencing black outs caused by severe migraine pain? Then let us introduce you to a revolutionary solution that’s on its way to you, in the near future.
Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane recently partnered with an Indian research company, Avesthagen, looking to find preventive measures for migraines.
“There are several studies that have been done across the world to identify the migraine gene,” Prof. Lyn Griffiths, Executive Director, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, QUT tells Indian Link. “We at QUT have identified a number of genes that play a role in migraines. We have translated our research and developed diagnostic tests.”
Prof. Griffiths is a geneticist and has been trying to track down the genes involved in migraine for over twenty years.
Migraines are classified into two categories, migraine with or without aura. Aura is a term used to describe unusual symptoms experienced before a migraine starts. Migraines, with or without aura, usually include severe headache, pain, nausea and vomiting.
“Twelve per cent of the population is affected by migraines, and the susceptibility is high in Asian ethnic groups,” says Prof. Griffiths.
Prof. Griffiths explains that 30 per cent of migraines can cause neurological disturbances such as flashing lights, wavy lights, tunnel vision, strange visual disturbances or difficulty speaking normally, numbness and weakness in parts of the body.
Through their research on migraine genes, Prof. Griffiths and her team found that migraine is caused because of a mutation in the gene produced by an enzyme in the body.
“The enzyme has co factors – active B group vitamins – and we worked out that if more vitamins are added then maybe we could make the enzyme work faster.”
Prof. Griffiths’ team held a blind placebo trial over a period of six months for a group of people in 2009 with and without the gene mutation. When more vitamins were administered, it resulted in a drop of severity and frequency of migraine headaches.
“We realised the treatment worked well with people who had the real treatment and gene mutation,” Prof. Griffiths says.
A second placebo trial was held in 2012 for a group of 250 people over a period of six months. “At the end of both the trials we concluded that this treatment is potentially effective if a vitamin treatment could be taken every day,” Prof. Griffiths confirms.
But why a collaboration with an Indian company? Prof. Griffiths quips, “How do we get the information outside of Australia? We were looking for a company that will develop and market it internationally to countries like India, the Middle East and Africa. Australian and New Zealand markets are already being taken care of by a popular local brand.”
QUT signed an agreement with Avesthagen, a popular Indian genetic and diagnostic company, in June of this year at a Bio Conference.
“We at QUT are researchers,” Prof. Griffiths says. “Our Indian counterpart Avesthagen will licence QUT technology based on the work of our Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, specifically toward a particular gene aimed at a vitamin therapy to reduce migraines. Respective teams from India and Australia will be sent across to get the required training.”
The migraine diagnostic and targeted vitamin therapy will be launched in India soon.