Harvard Scientists Identify “Entirely Novel Mechanism” Behind Itch; Staph aureus Bacteria Can Cause Itch by Activating Nerve Cells in Skin; Approved Anti-Clotting Drug May Be Repurposed to Aid Treatment

Scientists at Harvard Medical School (HMS) have shown for the first time that a common skin bacterium — Staphylococcus aureus — can cause itch by acting directly on nerve cells. The findings, based on research in mice and in human cells, were reported November 22, 2023 in Cell. The article is titled “S. aureus Drives Itch and Scratch-Induced Skin Damage Through a V8 Protease-PAR1 Axis.” The research adds an important piece to the long-standing puzzle of itch and helps explain why common skin conditions like eczema and atopic dermatitis are often accompanied by persistent itch.

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