Migraine is a highly disabling neurological pain disorder in which management is frequently problematic. Most abortive and preventative treatments employed are classically non-specific, and their efficacy and safety and tolerability are often unsatisfactory. Mechanism-based therapies are, therefore, needed. Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) is recognized as crucial in the pathophysiology of migraine, and new compounds that target the peptide have been increasingly explored in recent years. First tested were CGRP receptor antagonists; they proved effective in acute migraine treatment in several trials, but were discontinued due to liver toxicity in long-term administration.
Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) is a ubiquitous neuropeptide found at the very centers of the migraine process, both centrally and peripherally. It has been under careful study for approximately 25 years. Several CGRP-receptor antagonists are being evaluated for acute treatment of episodic migraine. Three monoclonal antibodies are being studied for prevention of episodic migraine, and 1 monoclonal antibody is being studied for prevention of chronic migraine. In this review, we discuss the role of CGRP in normal physiology and the consequences of CGRP inhibition for human homeostasis. We then review the current state of development for CGRP-receptor antagonists and CGRP monoclonal antibodies. We close by speculating on the potential clinical role of CGRP antagonism in the acute and preventive treatment of episodic and chronic migraine.
Therapeutic agents that block the calcitonin gene–related peptide (CGRP) signaling pathway are a highly anticipated and promising new drug class for migraine therapy, especially after reports that small-molecule CGRP-receptor antagonists are efficacious for both acute migraine treatment and migraine prevention. Using XenoMouse technology, we successfully generated AMG 334, a fully human monoclonal antibody against the CGRP receptor. Here we show that AMG 334 competes with [125I]-CGRP binding to the human CGRP receptor, with a Ki of 0.02 nM. AMG 334 fully inhibited CGRP-stimulated cAMP production with an IC50 of 2.3 nM in cell-based functional assays (human CGRP receptor) and was 5000-fold more selective for the CGRP receptor than other human calcitonin family receptors, including adrenomedullin, calcitonin, and amylin receptors.