Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Florida in the US have identified a new class of compounds with the potential to stop 'chronic intractable itch' without the adverse side effects normally associated with medicating the condition.
The findings could lead to new treatment for "chronic intractable itch," a condition where itchy sensation does not easily go away, and closely associated with dialysis and renal failure.
The compound that the researchers tested was effective in stopping irritant-induced itch, without causing sedation, in mouse models of the condition.
"Our lab has been working on compounds that preserve the good properties of opioids and eliminate many of the side effects," said Laura Bohn, professor at TSRI.
"The new paper describes how we have refined an aspect of signaling underlying how the drugs work at the receptor so they still suppress itch and do not induce sedation," Bohn noted.
The study used a compound called isoquinolinone 2.1 to target a receptor, which is widely expressed in the central nervous system and serves to moderate pain perception and stress responses.
The study was published in the journal Neuropharmacology