Scientists have discovered a protein that causes itching in mice. Mice that did not have the protein, called natriuretic polypeptide b, or Nppb, did not scratch when exposed to itch-inducing compounds. When the protein was injected into their necks, however, they began scratching wildly at the area. "Our research reveals the primary transmitter used by itch sensory neurons and confirms that itch is detected by specialized sensory neurons," said neuroscientist Mark Hoon.

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