An international scientific team has studied data collected from 50,000 Europeans and identified a genetic risk factor linked to common migraines.
The researchers found that patients with a certain DNA variant affecting the regulation of a particular brain chemical, called glutamate, have a greater risk of developing migraines.
The research marks a significant step toward understanding the mysteries of migraines and could help pave the way for the development of new treatments for preventing the debilitating headaches.
"This is the first time we have been able to peer into the genomes of many thousands of people and find genetic clues to understand common migraine," said Dr Aarno Palotie, chairman of the international headache genetics consortium at the UK's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, which led the study.
In Australia, migraines affect 17 percent of the female population and 6 percent of the male population.
Migraines can be triggered by a number of factors and often a change in routine will cause one. For example, too much or not enough sleep, a change in hormone levels with the menstrual cycle, a change in stress levels (either higher or lower) or suddenly participating in strenuous exercise can all be triggers.