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Research interests

The laboratory of Dr. Ian Zagon investigates a novel regulatory pathway, present in a variety of cells and tissues that comprises an endogenous opioid peptide termed opioid growth factor (OGF) and its receptor, OGFr. OGF is an inhibitory growth factor that maintains homeostatic function of cell replication by binding to OGFr, a nuclear-associated receptor. The OGFr gene has been cloned in the Zagon lab, and the human chromosomal location is 20q13.3. OGF binds to OGFr, is transported into the nucleus, upregulates cyclin-dependent inhibitory kinases and subsequently down-regulates the cell cycle.

Currently, the lab’s work is a combination of basic and translational studies focusing on different disease states (i.e., cancer, autoimmune disorders and diabetic complications). Of current interest is the hypothesis that OGF levels are low in autoimmune disorders. Hence, low doses of naltrexone (LDN) that stimulate endogenous OGF production or exogenous OGF treatments are effective at inhibiting inflammatory cell proliferation, thus reversing behavioral deficits and reducing pain. Clinical and animal studies are being used to investigate the role of LDN as a treatment of autoimmune disorders (e.g., Crohn’s, fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis).

In addition to pursuing the basic biology of the OGF-OGFr axis, the lab is interested in the repercussions of overexpression of OGF and the resulting depressed cell replication often manifested as delayed epithelialization of the cornea following abrasion, dry eye disease, ocular surface hypersensitivity and/or delayed healing of full-thickness cutaneous wounds leading to diabetic foot ulcers. Continuous or total blockade of the OGF-OGFr axis with novel therapeutics has resulted in a reversal of these complications in type 1 diabetic rats, type 2 diabetic mice, and normal animals with specific defects.

Modulation of the OGF-OGFr pathway with receptor antagonists has resulted in a number of therapies that have been patented; several start-up companies have been formed and IP licensed for further commercialization.

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Projects 1984 2012

Naltrexone as a Novel Treatment for Diabetic Keratopathy

Zagon, I.

National Institutes of Health

9/30/041/31/12

Project: Research projectExploratory/Developmental Grants, Exploratory/Developmental Grants Phase II

Naltrexone
Corneal Epithelium
Rabbits
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
Re-Epithelialization

Gene Gun Technology, Opioids, and Corneal Diseases

Zagon, I.

National Institutes of Health

8/1/017/31/05

Project: Research projectSmall Research Grants

Corneal Diseases
Corneal Epithelium
Firearms
Opioid Analgesics
Technology

REGULATION OF CORNEAL WOUND HEALING IN TYPE I DIABETES

Zagon, I.

National Institutes of Health

9/30/999/29/02

Project: Research projectExploratory/Developmental Grants

Corneal Epithelium
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
Wound Healing
Naltrexone
Opioid Receptors

ENDOGENOUS OPIOID MODULATION OF HUMAN PANCREATIC CANCER

Zagon, I.

National Institutes of Health

12/23/9611/30/02

Project: Research projectResearch Project

Pancreatic Neoplasms
Opioid Analgesics
Opioid Receptors
Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
Opioid Peptides

CORNEAL WOUND HEALING AND OPIOID GROWTH FACTOR

Zagon, I.

National Institutes of Health

2/1/961/31/02

Project: Research projectResearch Project

Wound Healing
Opioid Analgesics
Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
Corneal Epithelium
Re-Epithelialization

Research Output 1970 2018

Hydrofoil boats
Autoimmune Experimental Encephalomyelitis
Naltrexone
Interleukin-10
Multiple Sclerosis
3 Citations
Encephalomyelitis
Autoimmune Experimental Encephalomyelitis
Enkephalins
Opioid Analgesics
Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
3 Citations
Naltrexone
Enkephalins
Multiple Sclerosis
Opioid Analgesics
Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
2 Citations

Topical Naltrexone is a Safe and Effective Alternative to Standard Treatment of Diabetic Wounds

McLaughlin, P. J., Cain, J. D., Titunick, M. B., Sassani, J. W. & Zagon, I. S., Sep 1 2017, In : Advances in Wound Care. 6, 9, p. 279-288 10 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Naltrexone
Wounds and Injuries
Diabetic Foot
Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
Mast Cells
2 Citations

Featured Article: Nuclear export of opioid growth factor receptor is CRM1 dependent

Kren, N. P., Zagon, I. S. & McLaughlin, P. J., Feb 1 2016, In : Experimental Biology and Medicine. 241, 3, p. 273-281 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Cell Nucleus Active Transport
Nuclear Export Signals
Tandem Repeat Sequences
Opioid Analgesics
Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins