University researchers may have determined a new type of gene mutation that leads to migraines. The painful neurological disorder tends to run in families, which means that there's a good chance that its cause is genetic — but so far only three genetic mutations, each with a small impact on patients, have been linked to migraines. By discovering a new link, researchers could broaden their limited understanding of how genes relate to migraines. This newly identified potential migraine cause is believed to lie in a mutation of the gene "casein kinase Iδ," which appeared to bring about the disorder (and in some instances a rare sleep issue) in two families that the team studied.
The researchers' findings were published this month in Science Translational Medicine, and the team detailed how they tested their theory on mice. By creating mice with the same mutation, the team was able to study the rodents for similar symptoms to migraines. The mice showed behaviors that were consistent with disorder, including increased sensitivity to pain — but while the link between the mutation and migraines appeared to be strong, the researchers haven't committed yet to saying that it's a certainty, only going so far as to suggest that it's a possibility. Whether this new cause could impact a larger group of people than earlier mutations isn't known yet, but it could ultimately lead to better identification of the disorder when it's presented in a patient.