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BYU researcher finds genetic link to migraines

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Posted at 11:54 AM, May 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-02 17:01:54-04

PROVO, Utah – Do your genes determine your risk for migraines?

BYU chemistry professor Emily Bates published research this week in Science Translational Medicine that identifies mutations in a gene that makes people more susceptible to migraine headaches.

Bates suffered migraines as a teen and she wanted to help find a cure.  She earned a Ph.D. in genetics from Harvard and then worked with geneticists at UC San Francisco’s medical school.

They found genetic mutations of a protein known as casein kinase delta.  They then tested if this trait lead to migraine symptoms in mice.  They found the mice were more sensitive to light and touch.

This is the first study that demonstrates a genetic cause for the common migraine, and may help in the search for a cure.

Nearly 12 percent of Americans experience at least one migraine each year, and women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines.