Researchers from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have announced their discovery of a class of compounds with the potential to stop chronic itch without the adverse side effects that can accompany the use of opioid medications. In a study using mouse models, the team found that the compound isoquinolinone 2.1 was effective in stopping irritant-induced itch without causing sedation. The compound targets the kappa opioid receptor (KOR), which is widely expressed in the central nervous system and serves to moderate pain perception and stress responses. The findings are detailed in the journal Neuropharmacology.
A TSRI spokesperson noted that their lab has been investigating compounds that preserve the good properties of opioids while avoiding their side effects, in the search for better anti-itch therapeutic options. The referenced compound, isoquinolinone 2.1, is described as one of a class of biased kappa agonists that avoid many central nervous system side effects by preferentially activating a G protein-mediated signaling cascade without involving another system based on β-arrestin protein interactions.
Read a news story about the study findings here.
The journal abstract may be read here.