Jonesboro, AR – Jennifer Yanhua Xie, Ph.D., an assistant professor of basic sciences at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University (NYITCOM at A-State), has secured a multi-year grant for $428,400 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that will be used to study potential management and prevention of migraines using Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT), also known as Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM).
“We are grateful to the NIH for sponsoring this very important research, and we’re very proud of Dr. Xie for her innovative work,” said Shane Speights, D.O., dean of NYITCOM at A-State. “While OMT has been used to provide significant medical benefits to patients in an array of areas, OMT research projects rarely receive this type of funding at this level. We’re pleased to see the federal support this project is receiving, and we greatly anticipate the opportunity to examine the results.”
According to research from the National Headache Foundation, roughly one out of every six Americans are affected by headaches. There is no absolute cure for migraines, which stresses the importance of developing effective ways to address the painful neurological episodes. Xie will work closely with Regina Fleming, D.O., chair of the NYITCOM at A-State Department of OMM, and NYITCOM medical students will be actively involved in the project.
The team will provoke migraine-like pain by injecting rats with Complete Freund’s Adjuvant (CFA) to cause mild neck inflammation and then apply umbellulone, the major volatile molecule emitted by “headache trees,” to trigger cephalic pain. Both insults are required to elicit migraine-like pain, resembling human migraineurs who have increased susceptibility to the migraine triggers when suffering from neck pain.
Fleming and NYITCOM medical students will then apply OMT techniques to the rodents in effort to relieve the migraine symptoms. OMT is the therapeutic application of manual pressure or force that osteopathic physicians use to treat structural or functional issues in the bones, joints, tissues, and muscles of the body. OMT can be used to treat a wide variety of common ailments, including headaches, arthritis, stress injuries, and pain in areas such as the lower back, neck, shoulders, and knees. OMT is a non-invasive and medication-free treatment option for patients. It can be administered safely in combination with other medical treatments to improve outcomes.
“Preclinical assessment of OMT to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine episodes remain unexplored, hindering the widespread use of OMT to treat migraine,” Xie said. “Animal models have shown mechanistic translation to migraine in humans with clinically relevant output measures. Here, we use a novel rat model of migraine induced by a human migraine trigger to assess whether OMT is efficacious in preventing or aborting migraine-like pain and explore its potential inhibition of the ‘biomarker’ changes resembling human migraine pathophysiology to solidify evidence-based medicine.”
Xie’s previous work funded by NYITCOM at A-State internal grants has produced compelling preliminary data indicating that multiple applications of OMT can largely inhibit the development of cephalic allodynia triggered by umbellulone. Her team will further pursue two specific aims to elucidate the therapeutic window of OMT in preventing and reversing “migraine-like” changes including touch hypersensitivity, reduced voluntary wheel-running activity, enhanced calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) release in the blood, and activation of trigeminal tissues.
“The results from these studies are highly significant because they will provide a strong neurobiological rationale for use of OMT in managing migraines,” Xie said. “Our project is innovative because we use a preclinical model that recapitulate aspects of migraine pathology including well-accepted biomarkers and clinical-relevant output measures that increase confidence in translation across species. These studies will provide solid evidence to determine the possible utility of OMT for clinical management of migraine.”
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R15AT011097. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
About NYITCOM at Arkansas State University:
New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University, located on A-State’s Jonesboro campus, is dedicated to improving access to health care for the underserved and rural populations in Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta Region. Arkansas ranks 48th in overall population health status due to low health indicators including obesity and number of adults who smoke. The state also ranks 46th in the number of active physicians per capita and 39th in the number of primary care physicians. NYITCOM at A-State was established in 2016 with the mission of meeting the need for more physicians in this medically underserved area.