Researcher Wins Grant to Study Migraine Headache

By Lois Baker

Release Date: November 3, 1995

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A university at Buffalo researcher has received a $114,000 two-year grant to study the underlying mechanism causing migraine headaches, and is looking for migraine sufferers to take part in the study.

Subjects for the study must be between the ages of 18 and 65, suffer a least one migraine headache per month, and have no serious health problems or history of psychiatric or neurological disease. Volunteers selected for the study will be paid $200.

Principal investigator Edward M. Bednarczyk, Pharm.D., research assistant professor of nuclear medicine and pharmacy, said about 10 percent of the U.S. population experiences migraine, with women suffering the headaches three times more often than men.

Migraines are thought to start with a narrowing of blood vessels in the brain, which decreases blood flow and can cause the flashes of light and dark bar-like visual aura experienced by some migraine sufferers, Bednarczyk said. This vasoconstriction is thought to be followed by a widening of the blood vessels in the brain, or vasodilation, which causes the characteristic pounding pain.

No consistent relationship has been established between migraine symptoms and cerebral blood flow however, Bednarczyk said.

His study will attempt to show such a relationship by measuring cerebral blood flow at three intervals -- during a headache episode, following treatment with sumatriptan, and during a headache-free period -- using positron emission tomography, or PET scans, which are extremely sensitive and allow researchers to monitor biological processes as they occur.

Interested persons should call 838-5889, or leave a message at 887-4954.

The research is funded by the Department of Defense, through funds made available through the Women's Health Initiative.