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Approved Research

Deciphering the biological role of headache and migraine genetic risk variants

Principal Investigator: Mr Daniel Baksa
Approved Research ID: 71718
Approval date: September 21st 2021

Lay summary

Headache disorders can negatively affect our life by causing sufferings and limiting our activities and ability to work. It is already known that genetic background, environmental factors, and other disorders can influence headaches and one of their most important members, migraine. Several drugs for treatment already exist in clinical practice, but the failure of these drugs are relatively common, especially in migraine. Although new drugs recently became available but these are also not effective for everyone probably because headaches and migraine can develop for several reasons. In our analysis, we approach the problem from a genetic perspective. Previous studies with animals and in different cell types (especially neurons) can help us to identify biological mechanisms with high importance in headaches. Among them some showed the opportunity of therapeutic application. In our studies, we plan to identify genetic variants that belong to these biological mechanisms and determine their relationship with headache and migraine in the UK Biobank dataset. We will use this information to create specific genetic risk scores that can characterise the biological mechanism we would like to investigate and use the genetic risk scores in other studies to determine how they influence brain function (measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging or shortly, fMRI) in healthy controls and headache patients. We will also investigate  whether genetic risk scores or specific genetic variants influence the effect of the environment (e.g. income), other disorders or lifestyle (e.g. sport, diet) on the development of headaches. We believe that our complex approach can lead to a better understanding why headaches and migraine, in particular, are so diverse in their development and response to treatment, and may aid a more personalised treatment in headache patients in the future.