Tag: itch

This Week in Research: Chronic Itchiness and the Unmarried Poor

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Artist Tim Phelps's rendition of the pain-versus-itch stimulants.  Department of Art as Applied to Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, 2012
Artist Tim Phelps’s rendition of the pain-versus-itch stimulants. Department of Art as Applied to Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, 2012

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!)

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