Dr. Zadina’s research interests include the neurobiology of opioids and their role in alleviating pain and producing adverse effects, particularly opioid abuse. A current focus is on the development of novel, safer analgesics based on modifications (analogs) of naturally occurring opioids discovered in our laboratory (endomorphins). Our current generation of analogs has been shown in animal models to provide analgesia equal to or greater than morphine with substantial reduction or absence of several major side effects. Reduction of immunomodulatory effects appears to contribute to acceleration of recovery from chronic pain compared to morphine, which has been shown to delay recovery. Several studies have shown reduced or absent abuse liability relative to morphine and oxycodone, and the potential for treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD).
Amgott-Kwan, Ariel T., and Zadina, J.E.. Endomorphin analog ZH853 shows low reward, tolerance, and affective-motivational signs of withdrawal, while inhibiting opioid withdrawal and seeking. Neuropharmacology 227 (2023) 109439.
Nilges, M.R. Laurent, M. Cable, C. Arens, L., Vafiades, J. and J.E. Zadina. Discriminative Stimulus and Low Abuse Liability Effects of Novel Endomorphin Analogs Suggest a Potential Treatment Indication for Opioid Use Disorder. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 370: 369-379, 2019:
Feehan, A.K, and J.E. Zadina. Morphine immunomodulation prolongs inflammatory and postoperative pain while the novel analgesic ZH853 accelerates recovery and protects against latent sensitization. J.Neuroinflammation 16:100-120, 2019. https://jneuroinflammation.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12974-019-1480-x
Feehan, A.K., J. Morgenweck, X. Zhang, A.T. Amgott-Kwan, J.E. Zadina. Novel Endomorphin Analogs Are More Potent and Longer-Lasting Analgesics in Neuropathic, Inflammatory, Postoperative, and Visceral Pain Relative to Morphine. Journal of Pain 18 (12): 1526-1541, 2017.
Zadina, J.E., M.R. Nilges, J. Morgenweck, X. Zhang, L. Hackler, M.B. Fasold. Endomorphin Analog Analgesics with Reduced Abuse Liability, Respiratory Depression, Motor Impairment, Tolerance, and Glial Activation Relative to Morphine. Neuropharmacology 105:215-227, 2016. Neuropharmacology 105:215-227, 2016.