New Shot Could Relieve Migraines for Up to Three Months

iStock
iStock

Migraines are the third most common illness in the word, but their underlying causes and how to treat them are still largely a mystery to doctors. Now, NPR reports that an alternative therapy may be on the way for migraine sufferers dissatisfied with pills that only mask the symptoms. A new type of shot has the potential to relieve migraines for up to three months while causing hardly any side effects.

Since the 1980s, scientists have studied how a protein called calcitonin gene–related peptide (CGRP) relates to migraine episodes. Research shows that people experiencing the throbbing head pain, vertigo, and light sensitivity that come with migraines have high levels of this protein in their blood.

When CGRP is injected into the bloodstream of someone who's susceptible to migraines, it triggers these intense symptoms, researchers found. But when people who don't normally get migraines receive a shot of it, their side effects are mild pain at worst. Further studies in mice demonstrated that by blocking CGRP in the brain, researchers could stop their migraine-like symptoms from developing.

The first CGRP-blocking treatment for humans came in the form of a pill in 2011. Though the clinical trials seemed promising, the medication never made it into pharmacies due to its possible effects on the liver. The latest version of the therapy doesn't interact with the liver at all. Instead, monoclonal antibodies, the same immune molecules often used in cancer treatments, are injected directly into the blood. They bypass the organ to block CGRP in the brain.

Four pharmaceutical companies have developed CGRP-blocking medicine for migraines, and based on their clinical trials, the shots relieve pain for periods ranging from one to two days to three months at a time. And unlike current treatments on the market, which include antidepressants and epilepsy medication as well as prescription pain relievers, the most noticeable side effect is pain at the injection site.

Two of the companies developing the drug, Amgen (in collaboration with Novartis) and Teva Pharmaceuticals, will know in June whether the drug has been approved by the FDA, while Eli Lilly and Alder Biopharmaceuticals plan to submit their medications for approval later in 2018. If they are made available to the public, the treatments will likely be pricey, falling in the range of $8000 to $18,000 a year for patients who get the shots once a month. And though there are hardly any side effects in the short term, the drugs haven't been studied enough for long-term side effects to emerge. For those reasons, the shots may work best as a last resort for migraine sufferers for whom all other treatments have failed.

[h/t NPR]

This Smart Mug Alerts You When You've Had Too Much Caffeine

Ember
Ember

Since 2010, Ember has been giving perfectionists ultimate control over their morning coffee. Their travel mug lets you set the preferred temperature of your drink down to the degree when you're on the go, and their ceramic cup allows you to do the same in the office or at home. Now, in addition to telling you how hot your beverage is at all times, Ember lets you know how much caffeine you're consuming through Apple's Health app, CNET reports.

Ember's new feature takes advantage of the same Bluetooth technology that lets you control the temperature of you drink from your smartphone. Beginning October 17, you can connect your Ember vessel to your Apple device to keep track of what you're drinking. If you drink all your tea and coffee from an Ember mug, the Health app should be able to give you a rough estimate of your daily caffeine intake.

Ember wasn't originally designed to measure caffeine content, but its built-in sensors allow it do so. In order to maintain a constant temperature, the mug needs to know whether it's full or empty, and exactly how much liquid it's holding at any given time. The feature also gives you the option to preset your serving size within the app if you drink the same amount of coffee everyday. And if you like to drink specific beverages at their recommended temperatures, the mug can guess what type of drink it's holding based on how hot it is.

The new caffeine-calculating feature from Ember is especially useful for coffee addicts: If the mug senses you've exceeded your recommended caffeine intake for the day, it will alert you on your phone. Here are some energizing caffeine alternatives to keep that from happening.

[h/t CNET]

What You Need to Know About Acute Flaccid Myelitis, the Polio-Like Disease That's Spreading in Kids

iStock.com/Sasiistock
iStock.com/Sasiistock

The rapid spread of a polio-like disease across the U.S. is causing concern within the medical community. Since the start of 2018, there have been 127 reported cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), with 62 of those cases confirmed in 22 states, NBC reports. Unlike polio, there's no vaccine for AFM, and doctors aren't entirely sure what causes it or how it spreads. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging people to educate themselves on the condition.

AFM is a disease that attacks the gray matter of the victim's spinal cord, which can cause serious damage to the central nervous system. Symptoms like muscle weakness, facial drooping, limb paralysis, and trouble swallowing or slurred speech can manifest quickly and require immediate medical attention. There is no specific way to treat the disease or reverse its effects, but physical therapy can help some victims regain mobility.

The condition usually develops following a viral infection, such as enterovirus and West Nile virus, but there's no one virus is linked to AFM. Environmental toxins and autoimmune diseases can also trigger it.

Acute flaccid myelitis has been on the rise since 2014, and the CDC expects to see a higher-than-average number of cases this year. The department isn't sure of what's causing the spike, but even with incidents on the rise, the disease is still incredibly rare. It affects mostly children under age 19, and kids younger than 4 account for most of the cases. The chances of a kid contracting the infection in the U.S. are less than one in 1 million.

To protect yourself and your children against AFM, the CDC recommends following general good health practices. Stay up-to-date on your vaccines, avoid mosquitos, and wash your hands regularly and thoroughly to ward off viruses.

[h/t NBC]

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