There are around eight million migraine sufferers in the UK today. This Witness Seminar looked at the last 50 years of research into the diagnosis and treatment of the condition and the changing attitudes of the medical profession towards this debilitating disorder.
Chaired by Dr Mark Weatherall, the participants, some of whom were also migraine sufferers, included neurologists and pharmacologists, representatives from patient organizations such as Migraine Action and the Migraine Trust, and GPs and headache nurses.
The discussion covered the vascular and neuronal theories of migraine, the early treatment with ergotamine, analgesics and antiemetics, and investigations into the importance of 5-HT. It then moved on to examine the scientific research behind the development of the triptans during the 1980s and impact of their introduction in the early 1990s. More recent treatments, such as the use of Botox (botulinum toxin), were also considered.
Other topics included the development of headache classification and diagnostic criteria for migraine; the support for migraine sufferers such as headache clinics, specialist headache nurses, and charities; and the reason why, despite the number of sufferers and its high socio-economic cost, there is often little interest in migraine and research attracts limited funding.
Overy C and Tansey E M. (eds) (2014)
Wellcome Witnesses to Contemporary Medicine, vol. 49. London: Queen Mary, University of London.
ISBN 978 0 90223 894 7