Australia: A 'female' gene may be responsible for migraine, which explains why women are more likely to suffer from debilitating headaches, say researchers. A study found a new region on the X chromosome as having a link to migraines, providing new evidence that there might be a 'susceptibility' gene involved.

All women have two X chromosomes while men have an X and a Y chromosome. Researchers, led by Lyn Griffiths from Australia's Griffith University, say more than one X chromosomal gene may be involved and believe a gene involved in iron regulation in the brain merits further attention.

Professor Griffiths' finding is based on genetic research of 300 inhabitants of the remote Norfolk Isand, between Australia and New Zealand.

Many of the islanders are descendents of survivors of the mutiny on the Bounty, having moved there when they outgrew the Pitcairn Island.

Eighty per cent of the inhabitants can trace their ancestry back to the mutiny. "These results provide more support for the role of the X chromosome in migraine and may explain why so many more females suffer from the disorder", said Prof Griffiths.

"Currently, 12 per cent of the population suffers from migraine. Even though we have some very good treatments for this debilitating disease, they certainly don't work for everyone and can have some side effects. Hence there is a real need to develop new migraine treatments", she noted.

Prof Griffiths added that the island was ideal for study purpose because the relatively small gene pool made mapping genetics easy.


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