Scratchy and itchy

Researchers are only just begin to scratch the surface of the brain with functional MRI. Now, a study of perception in both allergen- and histamine-induced itch has revealed how different parts of the brain are activated in response to stimulation from each type.

Allergens, such as pollen and dust, and histamine released by allergy cells as a result of activation by foods, drugs, or infection often lead to a vicious itch?scratch cycle as any allergy sufferer will tell you. However, researchers at Oxford University have demonstrated that the brain responds differently to itchiness caused by allergens and histamine.

Siri Leknes, Susanna Bantick, Richard Wise, and Irene Tracey at Oxford have worked with Carolyn Willis and John Wilkinson of the Department of Dermatology, at Amersham Hospital to try to understand the nature of itch? cycle with a view to improving outcomes for allergy sufferers and people with certain chronic skin conditions.

Read on in the latest science news round-up from David Bradley on