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Researchers at Eli Lilly want to find out whether migraine sufferers carry a signpost for a molecule implicated in their painful headaches. They think the ingredient that gives hot peppers their kick will point the way.

If they do confirm that people who are sensitive to the fiery capsaicin also have high levels of the migraine-associated molecule, the scientists might have solved a problem widespread in drug development: How do you know who will benefit from your compound?

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  • What Lilly researchers have to be aware of is the you neither want excessive dilatation or constant constriction. I use the analogy of a door and the teenager slams the door open and damages the wall -that is the migraine. What works for my patients is keeping the door 1/2 way open. The teenager still slams the door open, but because the door is already 1/2 open, no damage to the wall. With the vessels partially dilated, they still constrict from the trigger, but you avoid the extreme vasodilatation -migraine pain.

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