UK Biobank participants are helping researchers better understand the causes of headache and migraine.
A new study using health information from around 225,000 participants has shown that headache, as a single entity, is mainly driven by neurological changes in the brain, rather than a change in blood supply, as was previously thought.
The work led by Dr Weihua Meng, from the University of Dundee and with collaborations from the University of Edinburgh, raises hopes of better treatments for a wide range of head pain. It was published in the medical journal EBioMedicine.
The researchers also found that headaches and psychological traits like depression share common genetic components. The work also confirmed 14 previously reported genes linked to migraine and identified 14 new genetic areas of interest for headache.
Scientists’ hope that the work will lead to better, more targeted treatment for migraine and illnesses like depression. Many people with migraine also suffer from depression and this research may help explain why.
Dr Meng said: “It is great to be able to probe a resource like UK Biobank and to start to uncover some of these unknowns about headache and migraine, which cause huge amounts of suffering every day of the year.”
Researchers are now looking at back, hip and knee pain – all health problems that can cause significant distress and reduce quality of life.
Read the published journal article: