Nerve Cells trigger out itch: Study

September 27th, 2009  |  Published in Technology

Researches have found specific nerve cells responsible for itchiness, a discovery that could lead to better treatments for skin conditions.

Experiments on mice show they have nerve cells that convey only an itch sensation – contradicting common wisdom that itch and pain are closely related.

Reporting in the journal Science, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis and Peking University Third Hospital in Beijing say they created itch-free mice by killing their itch-specific neurons.

“This finding has very important therapeutic implications” says Washington University’s Dr Zhou-Feng Chen, who led the study.

“We’ve shown that particular neurons are critical for the itching sensation but not for pain, which means those cells may contain several itch-specific receptors or signaling molecules that can be explored or identified as targets for future treatment or management of chronic itching.”

Eczema, psoriasis, allergies, infections and other conditions can cause chronic itching and various treatments are often only partially effective.


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