Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Approach to Treating Chronic Itch

15.08.2018

Two receptors in the spinal cord and the right experimental drug: Researchers at the University of Zurich have discovered a new approach that suppresses itch. In a series of experiments in mice and dogs they successfully alleviated different forms of acute as well as chronic itch. For the latter, current treatment options are very limited.

Everybody knows the unpleasant itching sensation after being bitten by a mosquito. Luckily, this kind of itch can be relieved by a number of drugs that are available on the market.


These drugs, however, are largely ineffective when it comes to the unrelenting and debilitating urge to scratch experienced by patients suffering from skin, kidney or liver diseases.

This chronic condition, which affects about 10 percent of the population, is currently treated with antidepressants or immune suppressants. Originally developed to treat other diseases, these drugs often fail to provide the desired relief or come with severe side effects.

Blocking itch signals

Hanns Ulrich Zeilhofer, professor at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University of Zurich, and his research group have now discovered a new way to alleviate itch. They used an experimental drug to boost the effect of specific neurons in the spine that prevent itch signals from being relayed to the brain.

The scientists had previously located and described these neurons three years ago. Since then, they have used genetic mouse models to identify two specific receptors that control the effect of the spinal neurons. These receptors are part of a large group of receptors that is activated by the amino acid transmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. It is with these GABA receptors that for example benzodiazepines, a class of drugs used to treat insomnia, anxiety or epilepsy, interact.

Less scratching, quicker healing

The experimental drug used by the researchers in their study, which was originally developed as a drug for anxiety, interacts with the two identified receptors. In their experiments, the pharmacologists were able to show that it not only suppresses acute itch, but is also effective against chronic itch.

Mice that were administered with the drug scratched themselves less often, and their skin changes healed significantly quicker than in animals that were given a placebo. The same itch-suppressant effect was also observed in tests with dogs carried out by the researchers in cooperation with the University of Zurich’s Veterinary Department. Moreover, the drug did not cause obvious undesired side effects.

Potential benefits for humans and animals

Hanns Ulrich Zeilhofer is optimistic about the study’s results: “We are confident that the substance we’ve tested will also be effective in humans.” At the same time the findings should be very valuable for veterinary medicine, since:

“Like humans, dogs also often suffer from chronic itch. They too therefore stand to benefit from the approach.” The researchers see great potential in their discovery and have filed a patent application. They are cooperating with companies that develop the compound as a drug for use in human and veterinary medicine.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Dr. Hanns Ulrich Zeilhofer
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
University of Zurich
Phone +41 44 635 59 12
E-mail: zeilhofer@pharma.uzh.ch

Originalpublikation:

Literature:
W. T. Ralvenius, E. Neumann, M. Pagani, M. A. Acuña, H. Wildner, D. Benke, N. Fischer, A. Rostaher, S. Schwager, M. Detmar, K. Frauenknecht, A. Aguzzi, J. L. Hubbs, U. Rudolph, C. Favrot and H. U. Zeilhofer. Itch suppression in mice and dogs by modulation of spinal α2 and α3 GABAA receptors. Nature Communications. August 13, 2018. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05709-0

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.media.uzh.ch/en/Press-Releases/2018/itch.html

Rita Ziegler | Universität Zürich

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Münster University researchers develop new synthesis method for producing fluorinated piperidines
22.01.2019 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

nachricht New blood vessel system discovered in bones
22.01.2019 | Universität Duisburg-Essen

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Energizing the immune system to eat cancer

Abramson Cancer Center study identifies method of priming macrophages to boost anti-tumor response

Immune cells called macrophages are supposed to serve and protect, but cancer has found ways to put them to sleep. Now researchers at the Abramson Cancer...

Im Focus: Ten-year anniversary of the Neumayer Station III

The scientific and political community alike stress the importance of German Antarctic research

Joint Press Release from the BMBF and AWI

The Antarctic is a frigid continent south of the Antarctic Circle, where researchers are the only inhabitants. Despite the hostile conditions, here the Alfred...

Im Focus: Ultra ultrasound to transform new tech

World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles

The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.

Im Focus: Flying Optical Cats for Quantum Communication

Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.

In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...

Im Focus: Nanocellulose for novel implants: Ears from the 3D-printer

Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.

It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

11th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Aachen, 3-4 April 2019

14.01.2019 | Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Mechanical engineers develop process to 3D print piezoelectric materials

22.01.2019 | Materials Sciences

Energizing the immune system to eat cancer

22.01.2019 | Health and Medicine

Early Prediction of Alzheimer’s Progression in Blood

22.01.2019 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>