A team of international researchers have found that patients with a certain DNA variant affecting regulation of a particular brain chemical have a greater risk of developing migraines. The study was conducted on genetic data of 50,000 patients from across Finland, Germany, and The Netherlands.

The results suggest that a buildup of a chemical, called glutamate, may result in migraines.

According to Aarno Palotie, chairman of the International Headache Genetics Consortium at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Britain, this was the first time studies hints at genetic clues to understand common migraine.

In a study published in Nature on Sunday, Palotie's team said the particular migraine risk DNA variant they had identified was on chromosome 8 between two genes known as PGCP and MTDH/AEG-1.

Migraine affects around one in six women and one in 12 men, and is considered the most expensive brain disorder in the European Union and the United States.

The World Health Organization ranks it 19th among all causes of years lived with disability. Migraine affects family life, social life and also puts a dent on professional capacity.

Global sales of drugs to treat migraine were around $2.6 billion in 2009, according Deutsche Bank analysts.