Researchers Identify Cells That Say 'Scratch Me'

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

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Aug. 07, 2009

If you've got an itch to scratch, then this may interest you: Scientists have pinpointed a key group of cells that sends "itch-alerts" to the brain.

When researchers knocked out those cells in lab mice, doing so relieved their itchiness without affecting their ability to sense pain.

The work opens a possible new avenue for creating better treatments for people who suffer from chronic itching and who scratch themselves raw.

The problem in the past has been that pain and itch were difficult to separate. Previous research found various nerve pathways that seem involved in both.

The new research is the first to identify itch-specific cells in the spinal cord.

The research at Washington University in St. Louis is reported in the journal Science.


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