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New hope for eczema sufferers

Narrator:       This is Science Today. There's a new picture of how the nervous system interacts with the immune system to cause the itch and inflammation that's associated with eczema, a chronic skin condition for which there are no cures or good treatments. Neuroscientist Diana Bautista of the University of California, Berkeley, focused on what causes the acute itch and found that itch-sensitive neurons in the skin have receptors for a chemical that induces itch.

Bautista:        It wasn't known that sensory neurons can respond to this, what's called atopic dermatitis cytokine, very quickly and that they can then recruit a lot of immune cells, so the study put the sensory neurons sort of up front, which is really exciting and interesting and novel.

Narrator:       That's because most drug development is focused on trying to inhibit the immune response.

Bautista:        Of course the immune system, the skin cells are playing a very important role in the development and maintenance of chronic itch, but I think highlighting the neurons is really exciting because it's a new avenue for potential treatment.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.