Hard work pays off for scientists who won £1.1 million prize for migraine treatment

Written on 03/05/2021

By Ciarán Mather

A team of four scientists have received the world's largest prize for neuroscience thanks to their work in treating migraines.

The winners include: British researcher Peter Goadsby (pictured), Michael Moskowitz from the US, Lars Edvinsson of Sweden and Jes Olesen of Denmark are proud recipients of the 'Brain prize'.

All four of them were given the £1.1 million (€1,276,418) prize by The Lundbeck Foundation in Denmark, who also commended them for their work.

Mr. Goadsby said at a recent press conference: 'I'm excited that migraine research is getting this award and that migraine – this disabling problem that is a brain disorder – is being recognised in an appropriate way.'

The prize-winning research revolves around unravelling the neural basis of migraines: a neurological condition characterised by episodes of severely painful headaches.

Other additional symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell.

Previously in 2004, Mr. Oleson and his team published the results of a large clinical trial suggesting that such 'CGRP antagonist drugs', which were effective in the acute treatment of migraine attacks.

This has led to the development of new treatments for the condition, including the monoclonal antibody-based drugs erenumab.

Meanwhile, Moskowitz has been working on migraine treatment since the 1970s.

The award ceremony will take place in Copenhagen on 25 October, where the prize will be formally presented to them by Prince Frederik of Denmark.

Interview with an Irish woman living with a severe headache disorder:

Speaking exclusively to Newsday.ie, a woman who wished to only be identified as 'Jenny' agreed to speak about her experience with migraines and erenumab and the changes this has made to her life.

Jenny, who also suffers from a rare immune system disorder known as Behchet's Syndrome, has been suffering from a rare headache disorder known as new persistent daily headache since 2015 with migraine-like features such as tinnitus light sensitivity, and blurred vision as a result of her condition.

She explained: 'These headaches have no cure and are apparently the hardest to treat.' 

'I have been receiving pre-empt Botox injections in my head every three months for the past two years.'

'Although it's painful, it has relieved some of the symptoms and the severity of the headaches.'

Six months ago, Jenny was put on erenumab; specifically, Ajovy-brand injections containing the drug.

'My headaches have been relieved by around 70 per cent. They have been a game changer, and although the headaches do still present themselves, my ability to persist on throughout the day doing basic activities, like going for a walk, has improved.'

She added that she estimates she experiences headaches around 15 days a month now - this may seem like a lot, but in fact, it is a marked improvement from experiencing them on a daily basis.

'To be honest, I can't believe the improvement. It [erenumab] is like a wonder drug!'

In addition, Jenny has revealed that the only side effect she has experienced so far are bouts of constipation, which occur usually a few days after taking her injections.