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Could light stop you itching?

Thursday 21 February 2019

For the first time, scientists have used a targeted light source effectively to stop one of nature’s most irritating symptoms – the common itch.

Working with mice, scientists from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Rome managed to successfully control itching. They used light to activate a phototoxic agent that targets itch-sensing cells, which are located in the upper surface of the skin. Other types of nerve cells in the skin are not affected by the treatment. The scientists claim the treatment can be effective for several months.

At best an annoyance and at worst a chronic symptom of another illness, itching can drive sufferers to distraction. For chronic skin diseases like eczema, itching is a major symptom, and scratching only makes things worse because it can cause skin damage, additional inflammation, and even more problems.

With funding, the scientists hope to take the study further. Group leader Paul Heppenstall commented: “We want to collaborate with industry partners to develop therapies for humans, but also for veterinary medicine.”

Sources:

1.Photonics:
Using Light to Stop Itch Could Provide Relief From Skin Diseases.

2.Nature:
Interleukin-31-mediated photoablation of pruritogenic epidermal neurons reduces itch-associated behaviours in mice.

Label:

Light News

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