Scratch No More: Gene For Itch Sensation Discovered
Science Daily — Itching for a better anti-itch remedy? Your wish may soon be granted now that scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified the first gene for the itch sensation in the central nervous system. The discovery could rapidly lead to new treatments directly targeting itchiness and providing relief for chronic and severe itching.
The "itch gene" is GRPR (gastrin-releasing peptide receptor), which codes for a receptor found in a very small population of spinal cord nerve cells where pain and itch signals are transmitted from the skin to the brain. The researchers, led by Zhou-Feng Chen, Ph.D., found that laboratory mice that lacked this gene scratched much less than their normal cage-mates when given itchy stimuli.
The laboratory experiments confirmed the connection between GRPR and itching, offering the first evidence of a receptor specific for the itch sensation in the central nervous system. The findings are reported in Nature.http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070725143615.htm