CerSci Therapeutics recently announced they’ve received a grant from the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). NINDS is a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant is for a preclinical trial that will explore a possible new Migraine treatment. Previously, CerSci developed opioid alternatives. Now they’ve changed focus to develop treatments for neuropathic pain and Migraine.
What’s a preclinical trial?
- A preclinical trial involves animal testing.
- Human (clinical) trials can’t begin unless the preclinical trial supports safe use of the treatment being tested.
So, what’s this new treatment?
Unlike some treatments, this one’s not brand new. CerSci created several small molecules that block peroxynitrite. As a result, the company now wants to see if these molecules might work for Migraine. That’s because earlier research suggested peroxynitrite might play a role in Migraine attacks.
What’s a small molecule?
- A molecule is the smallest unit of a chemical. It’s comprised of two or more atoms.
- A small molecule is small enough to enter a cell.
- Once inside the cell, it’s able to change other molecules.
- Aspirin is one example of a small molecule.
- In contrast, a large molecule is more complex.
- Newer drugs, such as monoclonal antibodies like Aimovig™, are large molecules.
What’s the deal with peroxynitrite?
- Nitric oxide triggers Migraine attacks in people with Migraine disease.
- Nitric oxide + superoxide = peroxynitrite.
- Peroxynitrite is a free radical. Free radicals are compounds that have the potential to damage cells and promote disease.
- As a free radical, peroxynitrite has been linked to inflammation.
- Excessive peroxynitrite can affect electrical activity in the brain.
- Molecules that block peroxynitrite either slow, reverse, or prevent these negative effects.
What this means for patients
During a recent interview with lead researcher and Migraine specialist, Dr. Greg Dussor, we discussed the future of Migraine research. He shared his thoughts on what’s next:
Whether the study is successful or not, this is still good news for patients.
- NIH really does support Migraine research.
We often hear there’s not enough NIH funding for Migraine research. This was the first time I’ve heard about an NIH-funded Migraine study. It feels good to finally see our tax dollars working for Migraine! Even better, Dr. Dussor said he’s also getting NIH funding for a second study. He will be studying the differences between men and women with Migraine.
- Aimovig™ is just the beginning.
Doctors want to help people. The lack of effective treatments discourages new doctors from specializing in Migraine. Attitudes are changing because of Aimovig™. Consequently, researchers are motivated to explore new ways to treat Migraine. CGRP monoclonal antibodies aren’t the end of the story. They’re the first in a long line of new treatments for Migraine. More research equals better treatments. Better treatments equals more Migraine specialists.
- Migraine research isn’t slowing down.
It’s actually speeding up. More research means more treatment options. These new treatments will be made for Migraine. Odds are, they’ll be safer and more effective, too.
More reasons for hope!
It’s a rare treat to visit with a Migraine researcher. I’m always so impressed by their commitment to us. They work so hard to improve our lives. Dr. Dussor was no exception. He shared this message for all of us:
“It’s important to keep talking about Migraine. One reason Migraine doesn’t get the research dollars is that it’s too common. People don’t think that it’s all that serious. We need you to keep the conversation going, to let people know how devastating Migraine can be.”
When we talk about our experiences with Migraine, we raise awareness. By doing so, we help others understand Migraine. When people understand Migraine, they’re more willing to pay for research. Let’s keep sharing!
- CerSci Therapeutics. CerSci Therapeutics Awarded Phase I STTR Grant From the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health to Test Feasibility of a New Therapeutic Approach to Treat Migraine. PRNewswire. 21 Aug 2018.
- Dallel R, Descheemaeker A, and Luccarini P. Recurrent administration of the nitric oxide donor, isosorbide dinitrate, induces a persistent cephalic cutaneous hypersensitivity: A model for migraine progression. Cephalalgia. 31 May 2017. Vol 38(4), 776 – 785. Accessed online 23 Aug 2018 at https://doi.org/10.1177/0333102417714032
- Interview with Greg Dussor on August 24, 2018.
- Pacher P, Beckman J, and Liaudet L (2011), Nitric Oxide and Peroxynitrite in Health and Disease, Physiol Rev. 2007 January; 87(1): 315-424.
- Radi, R. Peroxynitrite, a Stealthy Biological Oxidant, Journal of Biological Chemistry. 13 Sept 2013; 288(37): 26464-26472.
- Szabo C, Ischiropoulos H, and Radi R (2007). Peroxynitrite: biochemistry, pathology and development of therapeutics, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. 1 Aug 2007; Volume 6: 662–680.