23andme has unleashed a new survey that aims to assess the genetic basis of migraine.
Two prominent migraine researchers have suggested that the blame for the slow progress in understanding migraine lies with a systemic lack of public funding for migraine research. They argue that the relatively recent, and incomplete, acceptance of migraine by the medical and research communities as a genuine medical problem, as opposed to mere melodrama, has led migraine’s funding to lag well behind that for diseases of similar impact. For example, they estimate that while $13.80 is spent for each sufferer of asthma, just 36 cents of federal research funds are spent per migraine sufferer.
The genetics of migraine are also only partially understood. That’s where our new survey comes in. Our community-based research program 23andWe seeks to empower the public to engage in genetic research from the ground up. We know our efforts cannot substitute for proper federal support of migraine research, but evidence of great public interest, plus a new finding or two, would add to our understanding of the disease and potentially send a message to Washington.
I have experienced the “migraine as melodrama bias” myself. See, I’ve suffered from migraines since I was in sixth grade. I still remember describing the visual symptoms and ensuing headache phenomena at a time when migraine was even less poorly understood than it is today. My list of symptoms is now easily recognized migraine: aura, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, duration.
And although there are phenomenal treatments now available, I don’t take a thing. I’ve come to see migraines as a way of flushing out the pipes, a neurological reset that helps me think clearer and with greater creativity.
You don’t need to be a 23andme subscriber to take the survey.