RESEARCH MIGHT HELP TAKE THE ACHE OUT OF MIGRAINE – February, 2001

In a world first, Griffith University researchers have mapped the location of a new gene which may be a cause of migraine. The University’s Genomics Research Centre (GRC) – the only research centre in Australia undertaking genetic studies into migraine – has carved an international reputation for genetic research into this common neurological disease. This is the third migraine gene to be mapped by the GRC since it started its migraine research six years ago. GRC Director Associate Professor Lyn Griffiths said the discovery of the new gene could yield benefits for migraine sufferers across the globe. “Current treatments for migraines are effective for only about one-third of sufferers,” Associate Professor Griffiths said. “The other two-thirds of sufferers are restricted to taking pain killers. The discovery of this new gene will help us work toward a treatment for those affected by the neurological disease. “We now know there are at least three genes involved in migraine, these have been localised to the X Chromosome, Chromosome 19 and the newly discovered region on Chromosome One. “Our results suggest that these genes may be interacting and not working independently. Hence, we now know that migraine is a complex, multiple gene disorder.” Associate Professor Griffiths said the next step for the research team would be to fine-map the region of Chromosome One where the gene was located and analyse DNA in a much smaller region to try and identify the underlying gene defect. “Once we ascertain what the problem with the gene is, we would like to use this information to diagnose people with the disease. At the moment there are no tests to diagnose migraine.” “We have recently received a grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to look at the chromosomal regions where we have mapped migraine genes. Also, funding from GlaxoSmithKline is allowing us to continue to look for other genes which may be linked to migraine. “Through the analysis of DNA data which is being undertaken by PhD student Rod Lea and other researchers within our Genomics Research Centre, we have been able to pinpoint the location of hereditary factors involved in migraine.” Griffith’s commitment to excellence continues to place the University at the leading edge of research and development. To enhance this work, the University is also looking for volunteers from around Australia to take part in a study. Associate Professor Griffiths said the University was seeking volunteers who have never had migraines (healthy control individuals) as well as people who have a history of migraines or whose family has a history of migraines.

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