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Vic researchers find a migraine 'villain'

Victorian researchers have found a key "villain" in causing migraines.

The team from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences have revealed the molecular details of one of the key initiators of migraines in the prestigious science journal Nature.

It is a neuropeptide called calcitonin gene-related peptide, which interacts with a particular receptor in the brain that causes the pain response.

But this receptor doesn't respond to the neuropeptide unless there's another "partner protein".

This study reveals the first high-resolution structure of the activated receptor, together with the neuropeptide and its main signal-transmitting partner.

"Our work, solving the structure of activated receptor complex, allows design of novel drugs that can activate the receptor," one of the researchers Dr Denise Wootten said.

"Excitingly, the CGRP receptor is not just a villain, but can also be activated for beneficial outcomes. For example, there is accumulating evidence that activation of the receptor could be used to treat inflammatory bowel disease, or resistant hypertension."

About two million Australians experience migraines with symptoms including pain, nausea and poor sleep.

"This research could pave the way for novel drug development in areas of ongoing therapeutic need," institute director Professor Christopher Porter said.

The research was a multi-disciplinary effort with collaborators in Germany, the UK, New Zealand, China and the Mayo Clinic in the US.

© AAP 2018