How are researchers around the world trying to identify genes associated with migraine?


“Well we're constantly looking at trying to identify novel migraine genes. We were part of a consortium recently through IHBI (Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation) and QUT (Queensland University of Technology) but it's an international consortium that has pulled together samples from right across the world. So there were, in fact, 59,000 migraine cases — that's a lot of people — and 316,000 controls, that is people who don't have migraine, that were investigated trying to identify how many genes and gene regions might be involved.
“Dale Nyholt, who works here at QUT at IHBI, played a significant role in analyzing the results from that, and from that it was identified that there were 38 — that's not few, that's quite a lot — but 38 new gene regions implicated in migraine.
“So, what it looks like is that we already knew that there were a number. We knew that there are genes involved in hormones. We know that there are genes involved in neurotransmitters, and we know that there are genes involved in the vascular blood flow system. But we now know that there's even more genes that play into those different classes. And so this, I thought, was a pretty exciting collaboration from all the geneticists around the world to actually work together on that.”


After comparing genomes of 59,000 migraine cases and 316,000 controls of people without migraine, an international team of researchers identified 38 genes associated with migraine. Some of the genes were involved in hormones, vascular blood flow or neurotransmitters.

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Professor Lyn Griffiths, PhD, BSc Hons

Director, Centre for Genomics & Personalised Health
Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Professor Lyn Griffiths is the executive director of the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, the largest interdisciplinary research institute at Queensland University of Technology. An active and respected molecular geneticist with more than 28 years of experience studying human complex gene disorders, with specific expertise in human gene mapping and gene expression analysis in migraine, cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer. Professor Griffiths leads the Genomics Research Centre, in which the main focus of research is the identification of genes involved in common human disorders and the translation of this research into new diagnostics and therapeutics.

Professor Griffiths’ own genetics research has appeared in more than 350 peer-reviewed international journals and led to diagnostic breakthroughs for several neurogenetic disorders, including familial migraine, ataxia, epilepsy, and hereditary stroke. A fellow of the Queensland Academy of Arts and Science, Professor Griffiths has also established several significant international collaborations with the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, Oxford University, University of Vienna, the Italian National Research Council, the MS ANZgene Consortium, and the International Migraine Genetics Consortium.