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Migraine Research Foundation Announces Recipients of 2011 Grants

The Migraine Research Foundation, which raises funds to research the causes and mechanisms of migraine, improve treatments, and find a cure for this little-understood but debilitating illness, has announced the recipients of their 2011 grants. From the MRF:

This year’s grantees will explore ground-breaking inquiries in the areas of chronic migraine treatment, genetic sequencing and basic science. In addition to these research projects, MRF has awarded a grant to award-winning filmmakers Jacki Ochs and Susanna Styron to help fund their feature-length documentary, The Migraine Project.

The four grants were selected from 34 proposals submitted from around the world and represent innovative approaches to unraveling the mysteries of migraine in different ways.

MRF’s 2011 research grantees are:

Andrea Antal, PhD and Walter Paulus, MD
Georg-August University,Göttingen, Germany
Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation for the  Acute Treatment of Migraine
Studying the effects of inhibitory transcranial alternating current stimulation as an effective non-pharmaceutical acute treatment for chronic migraine.

F. Michael Cutrer, MD
The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
Whole Exome Sequencing as a Strategy for Gene Discovery in a Large Well Characterized Family with Migraine
Using the newest sequencing technology for gene discovery in migraine.

Michael S. Gold, PhD
University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Calcium Activated Chloride Channels as a Novel Target for the Treatment of Migraine
Determining the molecular identity of the ion channels that underlie pain receptor sensitization and blocking them as a first step in the development of a novel target for migraine treatment.

Jacki Ochs and Susanna Styron
Human Arts Association, New York, NY
The Migraine Project

A feature length documentary designed to increase awareness and understanding of migraine for a world-wide audience.

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Migraine Research Foundation Donations Doubled This Week

The Migraine Research Foundation raises funds to research the causes and mechanisms of migraine, improve treatments, and find a cure for this little-understood but debilitating illness. Until December 31, 2011, all donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar thanks to a generous anonymous donor. Because all of the foundation’s costs are underwritten, 100% of your donation will go to research. Even a $5 donation, which will be doubled to $10 this week, helps further important research into this complicated neurological illness.

Learn about research the Migraine Research Foundation has funded and donate here.

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Vipassana Meditation for Chronic Daily Headache (Migraine): Clinical Trial Recruiting Participants

Meditation is highly regarded yet little-studied for managing chronic daily headache and migraine. Intensive Meditation and Migraines: Effects on Health and Well Being is a clinical trial of Vipassana meditation and chronic daily headache (the migraine sort). The year-long study includes a 12-day retreat to learn the technique. Researchers describe the study as:

Participants completing training in intensive meditation and continuing frequent practice for one year would experience reduced frequency, duration and severity of headaches along with improved awareness of the triggers of their symptoms, improved quality of life and mental health, improved heart rate variability, and reduced inflammation.

For more information on the study, see the recruiting page on ClinicalTrials.gov. Learn more about Vipassana meditation from Wikipedia’s excellent external links list.

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Is Your Doctor in Touch With Current Research?

Being an informed patient sometimes means feeling like you know more than your doctor does. Sometimes this isn’t just a feeling, but a fact.

In Why Doesn’t My Doctor Know This?, Dr. Kent Holtorf explains that “. . . [T]he overwhelming majority (all but a few percent) of physicians (endocrinologists, internists, family practitioners, rheumatologists, etc.) do not read medical journals. When asked, most doctors will claim that they routinely read medical journals, but this has been shown not to be the case.”

I don’t want to believe this statement, but with schedules crammed tight and overwhelming paperwork, it’s no surprise that some docs can’t keep up on all the research in their fields.

So the patient must step in. If you read about new study findings, look into more yourself. Many of the news articles will parrot each other, but dig around for the study abstract for more details. If the study is only of people with migraine with aura, and you don’t have auras, there’s no indication that you will benefit from the treatment in the article.

Don’t just bring in an article and ask, “What can you tell me about this?” Take concrete questions to your doctor. Does this treatment apply to you? Have other studies supported its findings? If your doc can’t answer your questions right away, ask that he or she get back to you.

If your doctor doesn’t act on the information, don’t assume that he or she is lazy or unwilling to work with you. One study does not prove a treatment is effective, future studies frequently contradict previously published research, or the approach may not be right for you.

However, if you feel like you are frequently stonewalled, being disrespected or not adequately treated, there’s always the option of shopping for another doctor.

[via We Are Advocates]

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Depression in Women with Migraine Linked to Childhood Abuse

Researchers have found a fascinating connection between migraine, depression and childhood abuse in women. I didn’t want to miss any important details, so the American Academy of Neurology‘s press release follows. (Emphasis added.)

Depression in Women with Migraine Linked to Childhood Abuse

Childhood abuse is more common in women with migraine who suffer depression than in women with migraine alone, according to a study published in the September 4, 2007, issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“This study confirms adverse experiences, particularly childhood abuse, predispose women to health problems later in life, possibly by altering neurobiological systems,” said study author Gretchen Tietjen, MD, with the University of Toledo-Health Science Campus and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

Researchers surveyed 949 women with migraine about their history of abuse, depression and headache characteristics. Forty percent of the women had chronic headache, more than 15 headaches a month, and 72 percent reported very severe headache-related disability. Physical or sexual abuse was reported in 38 percent of the women and 12 percent reported both physical and sexual abuse in the past. These results for abuse are similar to what’s been reported in the general population.

The association between migraine and depression is well established, but the mechanism is uncertain. The study found women with migraine who had major depression were twice as likely as those with migraine alone to report being sexually abused as a child. If the abuse continued past age 12, the women with migraine were five times more likely to report depression.

“The finding that a variety of somatic symptoms were also more common in people with migraine who had a history of abuse suggests that childhood maltreatment may lead to a spectrum of disorders, which have been linked to serotonin dysfunction,” said Tietjen.

“Our findings contribute to the mounting data that show abuse in childhood has a powerful effect on adult health disorders and the effect intensifies when abuse lasts a long time or continues into adulthood,” said Tietjen. “The findings also support research suggesting that sexual abuse may have more impact on health than physical abuse and that childhood sexual abuse victims, in particular, are more likely to be adversely affected.”

The study also found women with depression and migraine were twice as likely to report multiple types of abuse as a child compared to those without depression, including physical abuse, fear for life, and being in a home with an adult who abused alcohol or drugs.

“Despite the high prevalence of abuse and the increased health costs associated with it, few physicians routinely ask migraine patients about abuse history,” said Tietjen. “By questioning women about their abuse history we’ll be able to better identify those women with migraine at increased risk for depression.”