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 Novel carbon source sustains deep-sea microorganism communities
18.09.2018 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

nachricht New insights into DNA phase separation
18.09.2018 | Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...

Im Focus: New soft coral species discovered in Panama

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...

Im Focus: New devices based on rust could reduce excess heat in computers

Physicists explore long-distance information transmission in antiferromagnetic iron oxide

Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.

Im Focus: Finding Nemo's genes

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...

Im Focus: Graphene enables clock rates in the terahertz range

Graphene is considered a promising candidate for the nanoelectronics of the future. In theory, it should allow clock rates up to a thousand times faster than today’s silicon-based electronics. Scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P), have now shown for the first time that graphene can actually convert electronic signals with frequencies in the gigahertz range – which correspond to today’s clock rates – extremely efficiently into signals with several times higher frequency. The researchers present their results in the scientific journal “Nature”.

Graphene – an ultrathin material consisting of a single layer of interlinked carbon atoms – is considered a promising candidate for the nanoelectronics of the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

One of the world’s most prominent strategic forums for global health held in Berlin in October 2018

03.09.2018 | Event News

4th Intelligent Materials - European Symposium on Intelligent Materials

27.08.2018 | Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

World's first passive anti-frosting surface fights ice with ice

18.09.2018 | Materials Sciences

A novel approach of improving battery performance

18.09.2018 | Materials Sciences

Scientists use artificial neural networks to predict new stable materials

18.09.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>