Photo via University of Maryland, Baltimore/Facebook

The University of Maryland School of Dentistry and the Saint Louis University School of Medicine recently received a combined $5.3 million from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense to study a new way to treat migraines.

Migraine, a brain disorder that causes severe headaches and other neurological symptoms like sensitivity to light and mood changes, affects more than 36 million people in the U.S. 

The disorder has the highest impact on women and people of lower socioeconomic status, according to the NIH.

Currently, there is no cure for migraine and about 50 percent of patients get little relief from existing medications. 

With $5.3 million in funding, researchers at the University of Maryland and Saint Louis University will work to change that.

The team will study a new approach: “switching off” specific pain receptors. 

By targeting two distinct receptors, a new drug may be able to turn off pain signals related to inflammation. 

Drugs that target pain receptors already exist – and one has been approved by the FDA to treat multiple sclerosis – which may simplify the process for the team of researchers. 

“Our approach is exciting,” said Simon Akerman, research assistant professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, in a news release, “because it could fast track relief for millions of people affected by migraine.”