Zhou-Feng Chen, PhD

Professor of Anesthesiology

Washington University in St. Louis (WU)

We are interested in studying molecular and cellular mechanisms of itch. Chronic itch or pruritis is a major skin problem, which may result from the disorders of the skin, immune function as well as internal metabolisms. The majority of chronic pruritus is intractable and resistant to conventional anti-histamine therapy. The underlying mechanism of various pruritus is not understood. We are interested in identifying novel itch receptors, signaling molecules and neural circuits, and are using multi-disciplinary approaches including molecular, cellular, biochemical, genetic and electrophysiological approaches to understand how itch is transmitted, its relationship with pain, the skin and immune systems. We are working to identify novel compounds which can block the itch pathway, and developing chronic itch models which mimic different aspects of human pruritus. Once novel anti-itch compounds identified, we hope to bring them into novel anti-pruritus therapeutics.