Scientists Find Itching Gene
Gene's Role in Itching May Lead to New Treatments for Pruritis (Itchy Skin)
July 27, 2007 -- Scientists have found the first gene involved in
The gene, called GRPR, may make a good target for new drugs to treat
pruritis (itchy skin), note researchers Yan-Gang Sun, PhD, and Zhou-Feng Chen,
Sun and Chen work at the medical school of Washington University in St.
Louis. They studied the GRPR gene in mice.
Some of the mice had a normal GRPR gene. For comparison, other mice had an
inactive GRPR gene.
When the researchers exposed the mice to itchy chemicals, the mice with the
normal GRPR gene scratched themselves much more vigorously than the mice with
an inactive GRPR gene.
The mice with the inactive GRPR gene still scratched themselves a bit when
exposed to the itchy substances. That suggests that other genes are also
involved in itching, note Sun and Chen.
All of the mice responded similarly to pain, regardless of their GRPR gene
Based on that finding, the researchers suggest that it may be possible to
make anti-itching drugs that target the GRPR gene without curbing pain
The findings appear in the advance online edition of the journal