Touro Now: The New Drug in the Fight Against Migraines

Touro Now

May 24, 2018

Imagine not knowing when the debilitating throbbing at the side of your head is going to return. For those with chronic migraines, that can be as often as every other day.

About 12 percent of people in the US suffer from migraines, a neurological disorder that is three times more common for women. Exactly what causes migraines is not completely known, but a new form of treatment is on the horizon.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new kind of medication that aims to reduce the occurrence of migraines. The preventative drug, called Aimovig, takes a different approach from its predecessors.

“Migraines are thought to be associated with low levels of serotonin, a compound that narrows blood vessels, otherwise known as vasoconstriction,” explains Dr. Kevin Ita, Associate Professor of Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the College of Pharmacy. “Until now, most drugs to treat migraines have focused on mimicking serotonin by narrowing blood vessels. These drugs, called triptans, include Imitrex®, Maxalt® and Amerg®.”

In contrast, Aimovig seeks to prevent migraine by instead blocking a protein called calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor. But it is still not clear exactly how the inhibition of this protein prevents migraines.

“Whenever pharmaceutical scientists develop new drug delivery systems, we try to optimize or improve the variables of absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination,” says Dr. Ita. “This new drug has a relatively novel active pharmaceutical ingredient (erenumab), and it uses an autoinjector, which is a convenient means to administer an injection. It is the first of its kind.”

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Dr. Kevin Ita is an Associate Professor of Biological & Pharmaceutical Sciences at the College of Pharmacy. He is currently preparing manuscripts publication on the use of Microneedles for the Transdermal Delivery of triptans.

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