This new ingredient also suppresses severe itching
Everyone knows the tormenting and annoying itching after a mosquito bite. But with some itching plagued, the urge to scratch goes far beyond these known stimuli. Around ten percent of the population suffer from skin, kidney or liver diseases that cause chronic itching, which can almost drive people crazy. A Schweitzer research team has now developed an active ingredient that can completely neutralize itching.
The new drug effectively suppresses both acute and chronic itching, says the research team, to Professor Hanns Ulrich Zeilhofer from the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zurich. For chronic itching, this is even the first treatment approach. According to the scientists, the newly developed drug develops its active ingredient directly at the receptors that are responsible for itching. The researchers recently published their study results in the renowned journal "Nature Communications".
Annoying and excruciating itching could soon be forgotten. A new drug creates a deliberate ignorance by suppressing the itching signal before it is transmitted to the brain. (Image: absolutimages / fotolia.com)
Will the miracle cure soon be itchy?
Tormenting itching and scratching could soon be a thing of the past. In particular, for patients suffering from persistent itchy rash, kidney or liver disease, the new drug could be of great relief. "These chronic complaints, which affect about 10 percent of the population, are treated so far, for example, with antidepressants or immunosuppressive drugs," write the scientists in a press release on the study results.
Originally developed against fear
The drug was originally intended to be anxiolytic and used against anxiety disorders. Tests have shown that while the active ingredient does not provide the desired relief against anxiety, it inhibits the transmission of itching signals into the brain. As the researchers explain, the effect is achieved by the active ingredient acting on certain nerve cells in the spinal cord. About these so-called GABA receptors can control the itching signal.
No unknown parties
The above-mentioned GABA receptors have been known to scientists and medical professionals for some time. The effect of other drugs (benzodiazepines) is based on this family of receptors. These drugs are used for example in insomnia, anxiety disorders or epilepsy.
Accelerated healing processes
The research team led by Professor Zeilhofer was able to identify even more positive aspects of the drug. In their experiments, the pharmacologists were able to document that the experimental drug not only suppresses acute and chronic itching, but also accelerates the healing process in eczematous skin changes. Mice with skin lesions were given the drug and scratched as a result of significantly less, causing the eczema healed much faster.
Suitable for humans and animals?
In further experiments, which the researchers carried out in cooperation with the animal hospital of the University of Zurich, the antipruritic effect was confirmed in dogs as well. Unwanted side effects could not be determined so far. "The results give hope that the substance we tested has a positive effect on humans," says Professor Zeilhofer summing up the study.
Even dogs are allowed to be happy
"At the same time, the findings are valuable for veterinary medicine," the professor continues. Domestic dogs, like humans, would often suffer from chronic itching. Even the best friend of humans could benefit from the new therapy. The active ingredient has already been registered as a patent. Now, the researchers are dedicated to the task of making the substance usable as a medicine for human medicine. (Vb)