Eczema - the itch in the blood?

Research has suggested that two specific chemicals found in the blood - 'brain-derived neurotrophic factor' (BDNF) and 'substance P' - are somehow connected to itchy sensations.

To investigate this, scientists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong created an 'itchometer' that was worn by 24 children (average age 11) during sleep. By monitoring their wrist movements, the device measured the level of itching that the children experienced.

Blood tests showed that, as night-time scratching increased, so did the levels of the two chemicals in the children's blood.

The mechanisms behind the 'eczema itch' are complex and poorly understood, so this finding could provide an important clue to the underlying cause of eczema, and potentially lead to the development of new therapies that specifically target the root of the problem.

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November 2007


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