Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have identified nerve cells which are solely responsible for detecting itchy sensations, a new study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience reveals.
The researchers conducted the study on a group of genetically modified mice in which the nerve cells glowed fluorescent green when active.
On exposing the mice to certain irritating compounds, the researchers identified the nerves which became active and then burnt them off so that when the mice were once again exposed to the compounds, they scratched less.
The researchers revealed that the nerve cells, known as dMrgprA3+, did not detect any painful sensations and instead dealt solely with detecting itchy sensations. "Itch-specific neurons have been sought for decades. Our study opens new avenues for studying itch and developing anti-pruritic therapies", the researchers wrote in their report.