Columbia University Medical Center

Coming Soon: A Targeted Therapy for Migraine Headaches

Migraine is a common and debilitating disorder that affects about 36 million people in the United States. Yet the therapies currently used to prevent migraine headaches were designed to treat other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, depression, and seizures.

“The problem with current treatments is that they have many side effects,” says Denise Chou, MD, assistant professor of neurology at the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and director of the Columbia University Headache and Facial Pain Center. These side effects may prevent patient compliance with the medications, and some patients cannot tolerate the side effects over the long term.

But the first targeted therapy for migraine prevention may be within reach, as Dr. Chou explains in the video above. She says, “One of the biggest breakthroughs in migraine therapy is the advent of drugs that block CGRP,” a peptide released by the brain and the pain nerves in the head during migraine attacks. “These are drugs—which are actually antibodies—that would be injected to block CGRP and therefore prevent migraine attacks,” she explains.

Dr. Chou and her colleagues at CUMC are currently involved in clinical trials for these drugs (which have not yet been approved by the FDA) and other potential migraine therapies.