According to a report by the Science Translational Medicine, risk of migraines and sleep disorders are much higher when mutations take place on a single gene.
This could be a breakthrough of sorts because so far not much is known about the relationship between sleep disorders and migraines. If this is indeed a fact then finding new medicines for the treatment of migraines may become much easier.
Emily Bates, a part of the team believes this victory is personal as she herself was a patient of migraine during her childhood. She recounted how she would get vision disturbances and a feeling of nausea just before the migraine headaches started.
She distinctly remembers how loud sound and flashing lights made matters worse by hurting her eyes, ears and head. Moreover, she said that any kind of pressure applied on her skin made it very uncomfortable for her.
She stated that her condition was so severe that she had to miss school many times. Due to lack of knowledge back in those days not many could give her any remedies to the severe headaches. No one even had any idea about the cause of the head pains either.
It is because of this that Bates had decided to be a scientist and wanted to find the reasons for these extreme head pains. However, her opportunity only came much later at university of California, after she had completed her doctorate in genetics from Harvard in the year 2005.
Study on a Family
The research team at Los Angeles were studying closely a family who were all suffering from migraines. One surprising thing that the researchers found out was that this family had the habit of sleeping and waking up early.This condition is referred to as ‘’advanced sleep phase’’ is scientific terms. The research team was then able to find out with the help of a study that the sleep disorder of this family was caused because of a mutation taking place on a specific gene which controls circadian rhythms. From there on the researchers studied how the gene mutation may be a cause for migraines.
The first and foremost thing for the researchers was to prove that the genes were actually responsible for sleep disorder and migraines. Therefore, they found another family who were being studied in UCSF, who too were early birds and had a mutation which was a little different to the earlier family but on that very gene.
Study on a Mouse
In the following step a study was carried on a mouse who was carrying a mutated gene. It is here that Bates was given an opportunity to explain the disease that she had suffered as a child. She at the behest of her boss, studied the mouse closely to check if it was experiencing any of the migraine symptoms.
She found out that this mouse too had some brain changes which were similar to people suffering from migraine. Moreover, it was also sensitive to touch and heat. Therefore, she concluded that this mouse was more at risk of migraine than a regular mouse.