Spanish researchers develop an alternative to treat pruritus

Scientists from the Miguel Hernández University (UMH) have developed a new alternative for the relief of itching caused by atopic dermatitis and other skin ailments that, as it is not a drug, is suitable for all people and all skin types.

Specifically, the research group has studied the neuroreceptor terminals of the skin responsible for itching and pain and have developed molecules that manage to restore their balance, ending these symptoms, reports EP.

Continuous itching, swelling and redness are common complaints of atopic dermatitis and sensitive skin, discomforts that are estimated to affect 50 percent of the population and seriously alter the quality of life of people who suffer from it. In fact, 25 percent of atopic dermatitis patients associate their illness with depression, as it consistently affects sleep and daily activities.

Likewise, in dermatitis, in addition to the neurological system, the immune system is involved, which is the cause of the redness, inflammation or ezememas that these pathologies cause.

Scarce resources

Dermatologists emphasize that the therapeutic resources currently available for the treatment of atopic dermatitis are very scarce, especially for the rapid and long-lasting control of itching.

These resources are based, above all, either on the restoration of the skin’s barrier function with creams with emollients and cooling agents or on acting on the immune system with drugs such as antihistamines or corticosteroids.

Instead, these molecules, designed by the Institute for Research, Development and Innovation in Healthcare Biotechnology (IDIBE) of the UMH, which directs the doctor Antonio Ferrer, they target the nociceptor terminals (nerve terminals of the neurological system housed in the skin responsible for pain and itching) and act by restoring its balance, which induces the end of itching and pain.

According to Dr. Ferrer, «as the immune and neurological systems are related, it has been proven that, on many occasions, by restoring the balance of the neurological system, it is also possible to rebalance the immune system, achieving a notable improvement in people’s quality of life affected by atopic dermatitis, sensitive skin, rosacea and even some types of psoriasis.

Thus, Ferrer explains that these molecules are “the result of more than 20 years studying in which pathologies the different nociceptors are involved, the mechanisms that activate them and how to act on them to calm them”, a line of research that comes directly from the discoveries of scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian, both winners of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

The advances obtained by the IDIBE, which are at the forefront in this field, allow a third way of action against itching, acting directly on its causes and not on its consequences, with the advantage that they are not drugs, but neurocosmetics to disposition of all types of skins.

Acts on nerve endings

To ensure that their discoveries and the molecules developed in the laboratory can be applied in neurocosmetic formulations, the UMH have created Próspera Biotech, a “spin off” that, according to its general director, Dr. Marta García, “Offers cosmetic products without the need for a prescription and that act, for the first time, on alterations in the nociceptor nerve endings and not on symptoms, providing long-lasting relief to sensitive and atopic skin.”

The first research-based products are now available to people with atopic or sensitive skin under the names ‘Nocisens’ and ‘Nocisens Intense’. These are two creams made with moisturizing and nourishing ingredients for the skin that are free from aggressive agents, but which also include the molecules developed by IDIBE.

The company also offers a product specially formulated for babies’ diaper rashes (“Nocisens Baby”), since the immaturity of their immune system and the constant exposure of their nerve endings to a new environment makes them especially sensitive in the areas of contact with diaper or clothing.

The next launch of this spin off will be a specific formulation to soothe sensory skin discomforts that affect cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

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Spanish researchers develop an alternative to treat pruritus