A new gene linked to eczema and chronic itching has been discovered by scientists. Animal studies have revealed that a gene that promotes itch could signal promise in future eczema treatment.
Researchers from University of California Berkeley and Buck Institute of Research collaborated to seek the gene whose expression was linked with itch behavior across genetically distinct mouse strains, reports Medical Express. The scientists involved in the ground breaking study were Neuroscientist Diana Bautista, Ph.D who heads a lab focused on molecular basis of sensations and Associate Professor Rachel Bream, Ph.D, a geneticist.
According to the National Eczema Association, a substantial proportion of the US population has symptoms of eczema as 31.6 million has eczema and at least 17.8 million has moderate to severe eczema or atopic dermatitis. For chronic itching, around 10% to 20% of people suffer from chronic itch at some time in their lives. Eczema is incurable but there are many treatments available to ease the discomfort it brings.
The study was published in the journal Neuron and written there was their venture to discover the serotonin receptor HTR7 that plays a major role on eczema and other types of itch. The said gene caught the attention of the scientists because the itchiness manifested by the mice expressed the most HTR7 gene in the neurons that innervated the skin. This would signal a variety of itch disorders like eczema.
"We are really excited about these results. The dramatic decrease in itching suggests that HTR7 may represent a new drug target for chronic itch," Dr. Bautista told Medical News Today.
Brem says that, in addition to eczema, altered serotonin signaling in the skin is found in other forms of itch, including psoriasis and allergic itch. This discovery could show promise in the journey of discovering the treatment for itch disorders.