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Got an Itch? National Institutes of Health (NIH) Study May Help Explain Why


5/24/2013 7:24:05 AM

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Scientists at the National Institutes of Health report they have discovered in mouse studies that a small molecule released in the spinal cord triggers a process that is later experienced in the brain as the sensation of itch. The small molecule, called natriuretic polypeptide b (Nppb), streams ahead and selectively plugs into a specific nerve cell in the spinal cord, which sends the signal onward through the central nervous system. When Nppb or its nerve cell was removed, mice stopped scratching at a broad array of itch-inducing substances. The signal wasn't going through.

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