The National Institutes of Health has awarded a four-year $1.4 million grant for migraine headache research to the Huntington Medical Research Institutes’ Molecular Neurology Laboratory, directed by Michael Harrington, M.B., ChB., FRCP.
HMRI scientists have recruited volunteer study participants from the San Gabriel Valley for research aimed at understanding the biochemistry of migraine. They measure the chemical composition of spinal fluid and blood, using powerful new mass spectrometry instruments combined with human genome information, to identify thousands of molecules in each sample.
It is estimated that 30 million Americans suffer from migraine. Sufferers are exceptionally sick during migraine attacks, with pain affecting the muscles of the back of the head and neck. The HMRI scientists have identified components that change during attacks, between attacks, and what differs between migraine sufferers and those not troubled by headaches. Early results have revealed changes in molecules involved in many brain processes, including oxidation, blood vessel reactivity, pain and sleep.
Dr. Harrington hopes to learn whether these chemical changes in the brain affect a predisposition to migraine, and so lead to better intervention and personalized treatment for individual sufferers.
The project also receives funding from the Norris, Glide and Hezlep Family foundations, and from Thermo Finnigan, a medical technologies company in Palo Alto.