Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The hitch in the drug? The itch in the drug: Scientists discover clue to ending chronic itching side effect of certain drugs

Date:
February 9, 2011
Source:
University of California - San Diego
Summary:
Scratching deep beneath the surface, a team of researchers the U.S. and South Korea have identified two distinct neuronal signaling pathways activated by a topical cream used to treat a variety of skin diseases. One pathway produces the therapeutic benefit; the other induces severe itching as a side effect.

Scratching deep beneath the surface, a team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and three South Korean institutions have identified two distinct neuronal signaling pathways activated by a topical cream used to treat a variety of skin diseases. One pathway produces the therapeutic benefit; the other induces severe itching as a side effect.

The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, point to the possibility of designing future drugs that effectively treat targeted conditions while blocking the cellular signals that can lead to problematic itching and scratching.

"This new pathway provides another avenue to block the scratching response that appears as a chronic side effect during treatments of cancer, renal failure or the use of some antibiotics," said Melvin I. Simon, PhD, an adjunct professor in the UCSD Department of Pharmacology and a corresponding co-author of the study, headed by Sang-Kyou Han, an adjunct assistant professor at UC San Diego.

Itching -- and the scratching response -- are part of a complex and imperfectly understood somatosensory process that includes complex, confounding psychological factors. The mechanisms involved are so sophisticated, said Simon, that just reading or thinking about itching can provoke the sensation.

Improving understanding of itch biology isn't just a matter of scratching an intellectual curiosity. It could lead to practical medical benefits, according to Simon. "Itching and scratching are side effects of a variety of therapeutic drugs and of specific illnesses. In many cases, these effects are severe and make it impossible to use otherwise effective therapies. Thus, the itch remains an unmet medical need."

In the PNAS study, the scientists focused on Imiquimod (marketed as Aldara), a prescription-based topical cream used to treat a number of skin diseases, including some forms of skin cancer, by activating the body's innate immune response. One major side effect: Imiquimod produces intense itching and scratching.

The researchers discovered that the skin sensory circuit activated by Imiquimod to causes itching is different from the signaling pathway involved in the drug's therapeutic benefit. Indeed, the Imiquimod itch mechanism is distinct from other, well-defined itch mechanisms.

"By breaking down the response and sorting out its various elements, it may be possible to both understand the molecular mechanisms involved and to control them," said Simon, who noted more research is planned.

Co-authors of the paper are Se-Jeong Kim of UCSD's Department of Pharmacology and the Department of Neuroscience, Dental Research Institute and Brain Korea21, School of Dentistry, Seoul National University; Goon Ho Park, Hyejung Min and Estelle Wall, UCSD Department of Pharmacology; Donghoon Him and Sung Joong Lee, Department of Neuroscience, Dental Research Institute and Brain Korea21, School of Dentistry, Seoul National University; Jaekwang Lee and C. Justin Lee of the Center for Functional Connectomics, Korea Institute of Science and Technology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Diego. The original article was written by Scott LaFee. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S.-J. Kim, G. H. Park, D. Kim, J. Lee, H. Min, E. Wall, C. J. Lee, M. I. Simon, S. J. Lee, S.-K. Han. Analysis of cellular and behavioral responses to imiquimod reveals a unique itch pathway in transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1)-expressing neurons. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1019755108

Cite This Page:

University of California - San Diego. "The hitch in the drug? The itch in the drug: Scientists discover clue to ending chronic itching side effect of certain drugs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208164001.htm>.
University of California - San Diego. (2011, February 9). The hitch in the drug? The itch in the drug: Scientists discover clue to ending chronic itching side effect of certain drugs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208164001.htm
University of California - San Diego. "The hitch in the drug? The itch in the drug: Scientists discover clue to ending chronic itching side effect of certain drugs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208164001.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) Angelina's Jolie's decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy in 2013 inspired many women to seek early screenings for the disease. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins