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New Frontier in Headache Treatment?

Many pharmaceutical companies are researching completely new compounds to attack headaches from different angles. Merck & Co., Inc., announced that a Phase III clinical trial showed that a new compound called telcagepant (formerly known as MK-0974) significantly improved relief of migraine pain and associated symptoms comparable to the triptan zolmitriptan, but with fewer side effects.
New compounds like telcagepant work on receptors in the brain, which enable or stop cells from communicating amongst each other and with their external environment. Drug researchers use receptors as targets to stop the chain of migraine events. Blocking the action of a chemical called calcitonin gene-related peptide, or CGRP, is critical to stopping the transmission of pain impulses during a migraine. One way of doing so is preventing the chemical from interacting with its receptor, which is how telcagepant works.

Of the almost 1,400 patients treated during the attack, 55% had pain reduction at two hours, which was almost equal to zolmitriptan. For just over half, symptoms of sensitivity to light and noise disappeared, again similar to the results from zolmitriptan. However, the rate of side effects was much lower—37% for telcagepant, 32% for placebo, and 51% for zolmitriptan. The most common side effects were dry mouth, dizziness, sleepiness or fatigue and nausea. In addition, unlike the triptans, telcagepant does not cause vasoconstriction, a concern for patients with cardiovascular conditions.

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