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Johns Hopkins Health - An Itchy Situation

Summer 2010
Issue No. 9

An Itchy Situation

Date: July 20, 2010

Ever get the sort of itch that just can’t be scratched away? Plenty of people do. About one-third of those itches are allergy related and treatable with antihistamines. The rest are nonallergic, and relief is elusive.

But Johns Hopkins researchers may have hit on a molecular basis for nonallergic itches involving a family of proteins that function as itch receptors. That could mean hope for treatment beyond scratching or ineffective drugs.

“The majority of itch is not associated with histamine, which means antihistamines won’t work,” says Xinzhong Dong, Ph.D. “We’re not saying our discovery solves all other itch, but it does make significant strides in getting to the root of a sensation that’s poorly understood.”

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