Migraine is a very common neurological disorder affecting 15% of people from western populations. However, the mechanisms that cause migraine are poorly understood. Studies of families with migraine have identified a number of genetic loci that may have some role in the development of migraine. Anne Ducros (Hopital Lariboisiere, Paris, France) and colleagues review research on the genetics of migraine, the problems with identifying genes involved, and the possible mechanisms by which mutations in genes that encode ion channels may cause the attacks.
Gene patenting-diagnosing the problem
The US Patent and Trademark Office is currently processing patent applications for 50 000 DNA sequences. The companies applying for the patents hope that their sequences will turn out to have some diagnostic or therapeutic use. Already, companies and research institutes with gene patents have bought exclusive rights to diagnostic tests for neurological disorders and are asking other labs to stop offering these tests. In September's Leading Edge editorial The Lancet Neurology asks whether private diagnostic testing without physician support should be allowed.
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