Facing the Challenges of Chronic Pruritus: A Report From a Multi-disciplinary Medical Itch Centre in Germany
Sonja Ständer, Esther Pogatzki-Zahn, Astrid Stumpf, Fleur Fritz, Bettina Pfleiderer, Anika Ritzkat, Philipp Bruland, Tobias Lotts, Carsten Müller-Tidow, Gereon Heuft, Hermann-Joseph Pavenstädt, Gudrun Schneider, Hugo Van Aken, Walter Heindel, Heinz Wiendl, Martin Dugas, Thomas A. Luger
The complex nature and difficult-to-establish aetiology of chronic pruritus (CP) makes it challenging to provide medical care for patients with CP. This challenge can only be met with a multidisciplinary approach. The first multidisciplinary Itch Centre in Germany was established at the University of Münster in 2002 to meet the needs of this patient population. More than 2,500 outpatients and 400 inpatients are diagnosed and receive treatment each year. To ensure evidence-based medical care, an electronic system for medical documentation and patient-reported outcomes was established. Automated data transfer to a research database enables comprehensive data analysis. Our translational research has characterized peripheral and central itch mechanisms, provided novel clustering of CP patients, and identified novel target-specific therapies (e.g. neurokinin 1 receptor-antagonist). The multidisciplinary approach, combined with basic, clinical and translational research, enables comprehensive medical care of patients as well as implementation of high-quality experimental and clinical studies.