Simply prevent itching: New active ingredient switches off chronic and acute itching

Simply prevent itching: New active ingredient switches off chronic and acute itching

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This new active ingredient also suppresses violent itching

Everyone knows the excruciating and annoying itching after a mosquito bite. But with some itchy sufferers, the urge to scratch goes far beyond these well-known stimuli. Around ten percent of the population suffer from skin, kidney or liver diseases, which cause chronic itching, which can almost drive those affected crazy. A team of Schweitzer researchers has now developed an active ingredient that can completely neutralize itching.

The new active ingredient effectively suppresses both acute and chronic itching, reports the research team led by Professor Hanns Ulrich Zeilhofer from the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Zurich. For chronic itching, this is even the first treatment approach. According to the scientists, the newly developed drug unfolds 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".

Is the miracle cure for itching coming soon?

Tormenting itching and scratching could soon be a thing of the past. The new active ingredient could be a great relief, especially for patients suffering from persistent itchy rashes, kidney or liver diseases. "These chronic complaints, which affect around 10 percent of the population, have been treated with antidepressants or immunosuppressive drugs, for example," the scientists write in a press release on the study results.

Originally developed against fear

The active ingredient was originally intended to relieve anxiety and to be used against anxiety disorders. Tests have shown that the active ingredient does not provide the desired relief from feelings of anxiety, but does inhibit the transmission of itching signals to the brain. As the researchers explain, the effect is achieved by acting on certain nerve cells in the spinal cord. The itching signal can be controlled via these so-called GABA receptors.

No unknown participants

The GABA receptors mentioned above have long been known to scientists and medical professionals. The effects of other drugs (benzodiazepines) are also based on this family of receptors. These medicines are used, for example, for insomnia, anxiety disorders or epilepsy.

Accelerated healing processes

The research team led by Professor Zeilhofer was able to identify other positive aspects of the active ingredient. In their experiments, the pharmacologists were able to document that the experimental active ingredient not only suppresses acute and chronic itching, but also accelerates the healing process for eczema-like changes in the skin. Mice with skin changes were given the active ingredient and scratched significantly less as a result, which caused the eczema to heal much faster.

Suitable for humans and animals?

In further experiments, which the researchers carried out in collaboration with the animal hospital of the University of Zurich, the antipruritic effect was also confirmed in dogs. So far, no undesirable side effects have been identified. "The results give hope that the substance that we tested also works in humans," Professor Zeilhofer sums up the study.

Dogs can also be happy

"At the same time, the findings are valuable for veterinary medicine," the professor continues. Domestic dogs, like people, would often experience chronic itching. Even the best friend of man could benefit from the new therapy. The active ingredient has already been registered as a patent. The researchers are now devoting themselves to the task of making the substance usable as a medicine for human medicine. (vb)

Author and source information

Video: PBC Qu0026A with Dr Gideon Hirschfield (August 2022).