Researchers identify possible new therapy for concussion-related headaches

News Medical Life Sciences

February 19, 2020

As she jumped to head a soccer ball during her junior year of college, Kelly Farrell collided skulls with a teammate. She later was diagnosed with a concussion, which proved to be severely debilitating.

“I had a lot of trouble concentrating in school and class,” said Farrell, a physical therapist and Tucson native, who experienced a constant headache for two days after her concussion. Even after the initial pain subsided, her headache was reactivated by noise, bright light and studying on her computer.

Each year, traumatic brain injuries such as concussions cause nearly 2.5 million visits to an emergency room. The most common problem associated with concussions is headache. In an effort to develop a treatment, researchers at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson collaborated in a preclinical study with scientists at Teva Biologics and the Mayo Clinic to identify the cause of post-concussion headaches and a possible therapy for the millions of patients who experience this pain each year.

With Edita Navratilova, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology, as lead author and Frank Porreca, PhD, associate head of the department, as a co-author, the group published its findings in Cephalalgia in September 2019.

The scientists investigated whether a drug that blocks a substance elevated in migraine patients, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), would alleviate the headache pain by modeling human concussion in mice and assessing post-injury pain sensitivity. Researchers administered the anti-CGRP treatment twice – two hours and then seven days after the injury – and found the two doses significantly reduced pain responses.

Related Stories
Bilingualism can delay symptoms of dementia, study reveals
New study may lead to better treatments for Parkinson’s disease
Study suggests potential treatment to alleviate disorders of consciousness
In addition to immediate or acute headaches, long-lasting or persistent post-traumatic headaches affect injured patients, Dr. Porreca said.

Researchers assessed persistent post-traumatic headaches in their mouse model. Bright light reactivated headaches in injured mice 14 days after injury but caused no headaches in healthy mice.

To prevent stress-induced headaches, scientists administered an additional drug dose before the bright-light stress. When administered before the stress, in addition to after the injury, the drug not only prevented the immediate headache but also prevented bright light from reactivating the headache.

Researchers concluded that CGRP may be the link between traumatic brain injuries and post-injury headaches.

The sustained prevention of the actions of CGRP with an antibody treatment administered early after a mild traumatic brain injury prevents post-traumatic headache in our preclinical model, as well as the vulnerability for development of persistent post-traumatic headache.”

Dr. Frank Porreca, associate head of the department, co-author

“The encouraging aspect is that we do have a mechanism which seems to be driving some aspect of the pain, and if treated at the right time in this preclinical model, it seems to be effective,” Dr. Porreca said. Although the timing and dosage of the drug would need to be adapted to humans in future clinical trials, he added, it appears immediate treatment is critical to the therapy’s success.

Equipment Standards News

View All
  • Study Finds Wearable Neck Sensor Could Predict Concussion Risk in Contact Sports
    June 30, 2022

    Sport TechieJune 24, 2022 Sensor-laden neck wearables may be more efficient at measuring and predicting concussions in contact sports, according to a new study published Thursday in Scientific Reports. Without naming a specific brand of wearable, the research conducted by Michigan State professor Sepúlveda Alancastro and a doctoral student Henry Dsouza determined that neck devices […]

    Read more
  • A Diagnosis Brings C.T.E. Into American Pro Soccer
    June 30, 2022

    The New York Times June 28, 2022 Scott Vermillion’s family members still struggle to articulate the jumble of emotions they felt last November when they received the phone call from the doctors. Vermillion, a former M.L.S. player, had died almost a year earlier, on Christmas Day in 2020, at age 44. The direct cause was […]

    Read more
  • Association of APOE Genotypes and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
    June 30, 2022

    JAMA Network June 27, 2022 Key Points Question: Are APOEε4 and ε2 associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) neuropathology and related endophenotypes? Findings: In this genetic association study of 364 brain donors with repetitive head impact exposure from contact sports or military service (294 with and 70 without neuropathologically confirmed CTE), APOEε4 was significantly associated with CTE stage and […]

    Read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *