An experimental drug that slows blood flow in the brain knocks out migraine headaches in some people, researchers report in the March 11 New England Journal of Medicine.
The drug, known only as BIBN 4096 BS so far, competes in the body with the natural compound CGRP, or calcitonin gene-related peptide, says study coauthor Jes Olesen of the University of Copenhagen and Glostrup Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark. Previous studies have suggested that CGRP exacerbates migraine headaches by dilating blood vessels supplying the brain. In fact, giving extra CGRP to a person can initiate a migraine attack. BIBN 4096 BS intervenes by
displacing CGRP where it attaches to blood-vessel and nerve cells.
Olesen and his coworkers gave a 10-minute infusion of the drug to 85 people in the throes of migraines. Another 41 migraine sufferers received inert infusions.