Salk Institute for Biological Studies researchers have discovered that a series of compounds called opsinamides can block a receptor in the eye called melanopsin – a receptor found in neurons linking the eyes and the brain.
Ten years ago the researchers found that melanopsin is responsible for sensing light on its own, away from normal vision. This receptor controls the maintenance of sleep cycles and other sensitivity functions in people with healthy vision. The receptor was also found to be responsible for constricting the pupil when it’s exposed to bright light, triggering light-sensitivity that is linked to migraines.
Interestingly, the receptor also picks up on light-sensitivity when we sleep – accounting for why sleep patterns can be disrupted if exposed to artificial light during the night. Researchers believe that if the melanopsin could be blocked, treatments could be made to prevent and treat migraines. However, other receptors cannot be disturbed while blocking melanopsin. Studies done on mice have recently found a way to target only the melanopsin.
Hopefully with clinical testing, these compounds will lead to a promising new drug in treating migraine. Satchidananda Panda of the Salk Institute and lead author of the study believes these compounds can help many people, especially shift-workers who have disrupted sleep patterns and exposure to sunlight when trying to sleep during the day. “There are many people who would like to work when they have migraine pain exacerbated by light. If these drugs could stop the light-sensitivity associated with the headaches, it would enable them to be much more productive,” says Panda….. Medical News Today 8/28/13