(MONTREAL) -- Experts estimate that between 15 and 20 percent of migraine sufferers experience an aura, or an abnormal feeling marked by visual disturbances, such as dark spots, hallucinations or zigzag lines. These auras are an indication that a migraine is about to hit.
For those who suffer from migraines with auras, a new gene discovery may someday lead to relief, according to a study published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Medicine. A group of Canadian researchers discovered a mutation in a gene that regulates the flow of potassium. This genetic abnormality can cause nerves to be over-stimulated, leading to the painful symptoms of migraines preceded by an aura. Experts say these findings are an important step toward understanding more about the genetic factors underlying this extremely disabling disorder, and hold a lot of promise for developing an effective treatment.
"Some genetic factors, as found in this study, might suggest some families are predisposed to migraine," said Dr. Ronald Purdy, professor of medicine at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. "It all suggests a 'threshold' that when too low, migraine occurs. This threshold may be determined by genetic factors, and hence the importance of the study."
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