New Headache Research: Atogepant Could be a Safe, Effective Medicine to Prevent Migraines

New Headache Research: Atogepant Could Be a Safe, Effective Medicine to Prevent Migraines.

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A woman holds a hand to her forehead in pain.

New research from MedStar Health demonstrates the effectiveness for a chronic migraine medication. 


MedStar Health scientists participated in a recently published study of a new drug, atogepant, could help reduce the volume of migraine attacks in patients with chronic migraine. 

Women are three times more likely than men to have migraine headaches, which are most common in people under age 65. A migraine is more severe than a bad headache. It can cause brain-associated symptoms such as:

  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Light sensitivity
  • Mood changes
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Sound sensitivity

Multiple factors cause migraine headaches and often require numerous treatment methods. The good news is there are more treatments than ever. Advanced preventative medications such as atogepant give patients more headache-free days.


Atogepant blocks peptides to reduce migraines.

Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) is a nervous system and brain protein involved in how pain is transmitted and how the body’s tissues and blood vessels respond. Research has shown that CGRP plays an active role in migraine headaches. During a migraine attack, CGRP levels rise. CGRP levels are usually higher in people who experience migraines.

The original CGRP receptor antagonist medications caused liver complications, so they were not made widely available. Our research explored whether antogepant, a next-generation CGRP receptor antagonist, could safely reduce the number of migraine attacks in people with chronic migraines. 

We participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial in which more than 700 global participants were randomly assigned to get a 30mg dose of atogepant twice per day, a 60mg dose of atogepant once per day or a placebo:

  • The 30mg dose group had 2.4 fewer migraine days than the placebo group.
  • The 60mg dose group had 1.8 fewer days compared to placebo.

Atogepant is a tablet that gives patients more flexibility in controlling migraines. Injectable CGRP medicines stay in the body for a long time, which could be concerning for patients who are trying to become pregnant. 

Related reading: MedStar Health Offers Unique Comprehensive Migraine Headache Management for Women Throughout Their Life Cycle.


A bright future for migraine treatment.

Atogepant is just one exciting development when it comes to migraine treatment. Research has identified another migraine-associated peptide, pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide (PACAP). New drugs are being studied that may help patients who do not respond to CGRP medications.

Other advanced treatment options include:


  • Neuromodulation devices: These non-medicine treatments use an outside mechanism to alter the way the brain works to reduce the severity and frequency of migraine attacks.
  • Rebreathing device: In clinical trials, we’re studying a new device that can increase the carbon dioxide in a patient’s body to reduce migraines. 
  • Botulinum toxins: Botox has been FDA-approved to treat chronic migraines since 2008. New brands, protocols, and research could mean treatment is more effective and available for people with episodic migraines.

It’s an exciting time to be in the field of migraine treatment. Headaches are getting more time on the main stage at meetings and conferences. More residents and fellows are interested in training at the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Headache Center

MedStar Health Research Institute remains at the forefront of headache research, developing new treatments to help patients get relief from the devastating effects of chronic migraine.


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