First off, congratulations are due to Johns Hopkins, which made it onto Futurity.org’s “Top 10 Stories of 2012” — twice. The university’s research on a toxic weed that might help cure cancer was the sciencey site’s second most-read story of the year, and “How much vitamin D is too much?” ranked fourth.
But that’s old news! This week, we’re excited (and, to be honest, a little itchy) to read that neuroscientists at Hopkins have discovered itch-specific nerve cells in mice. These are receptors that register itch but not pain — a crucial difference, and one that can get scrambled in people who have chronic itchiness. (Think that doesn’t sound all that bad, as diseases go? I dare you to read this New Yorker story about a woman with chronic itch — who scratched through her scalp to her brain!)