Improving migraine relief medication

Improving migraine relief medication
© shutterstock/fizkes

Researchers from Malmö University have found a way to improve migraine relief medication by creating a shortcut from the mucous membrane in the mouth to the bloodstream.

It is essential that the active substances in migraine relief medication are released into the bloodstream quickly. The migraine relief that is currently on the market passes through the body’s metabolism, weakening the effectiveness of the medication and causing a delay in the relief.

The active substances in migraine relief medication are called triptans. This is the collective name for tryptamine-based drugs. Triptans react with serotonin receptors, inhibiting the function of the signalling substances in the brain that create the experience of pain. Serotonin is one of the most important signalling substances in the nervous system and can influence sexual behaviour, appetite, sleep, and pain.

Migraine relief can be administered straight to the bloodstream

In the study, Sabrina Valetti and her colleagues decided to work with eletriptan hydrobromide (EB), which has the least toxic effect on the heart of all the triptans.

Regular triptan pills pass through both the stomach and the liver, where a large part of the metabolism takes place. Previous studies have shown that over half of the triptan dose is broken down in this process before it has the chance to reach the bloodstream.

The researchers investigated the possibility of administering EB directly into the blood vessels of the mouth via the mucosa, which is situated under the tongue.

“We know from patient studies that it is important for the substance to reach maximum concentration in the blood within two hours in order to have an effect,” explained Valetti, who leads the project at the Biofilms Research Center for Biointerfaces.

Using the mucosa led to faster results

“We investigated the expected concentration of EB with our method after this time. We saw that the expected concentration was higher in the 3D human cells than those provided by regular migraine pills. This was also the case for the pig mucosa, but only if the pH value was raised,” she continued.

The human body has a system for temporarily regulating and balancing pH variations. The researchers found no toxic effect on the mucosa during a four-hour period when the pH value was increased from 6.8 to 10.4. However, they were unable to determine whether this experience was unpleasant in the mouth or not.

The fact that the mucous membrane has a thick tissue barrier, that is designed to protect the body from a variety of external attacks, has provided the researchers with a difficult challenge. In autumn 2022, the researchers carried out tests examining the details of the lipids which are believed to play an important role in pig mucous membranes in order to gain a better understanding of the barrier effect. The results of this study will be published in spring 2023.

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