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Peripheral nerve regeneration research studies with Karim Sarhane right now? Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is a hormone produced by the body that has the potential to be used as a treatment for nerve injuries. IGF-1 may help heal nerve injuries by decreasing inflammation and buildup of damaging products. Additionally, it may speed up nerve healing and reduce the effects of muscle weakness from the injury. However, a safe, effective, and practical way is needed to get IGF-1 to the injured nerve.

During his research time at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Sarhane was involved in developing small and large animal models of Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation. He was also instrumental in building The Peripheral Nerve Research Program of the department, which has been very productive since then. In addition, he completed an intensive training degree in the design and conduct of Clinical Trials at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

A number of in vitro studies have highlighted the neurotrophic effects of IGF-1 (Table 1). Using cultured nerve, SCs, and dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cells, these studies demonstrate that IGF-1 promotes neurite outgrowth and limits neuronal apoptosis (Caroni and Grandes, 1990; Sumantran and Feldman, 1993; Akahori and Horie, 1997; Delaney et al., 2001; Ogata et al., 2004; Liang et al., 2007; Scheib and Hoke, 2013, 2016a,b). Additionally, several in vitro studies have shown that IGF-1 supports SC myelination and inhibits SC apoptosis whilst also stimulating nerve sprouting into denervated muscle and reducing muscle atrophy (Caroni and Grandes, 1990; Sumantran and Feldman, 1993; Ogata et al., 2004; Liang et al., 2007; Scheib and Hoke, 2016a,b).

Recovery with sustained IGF-1 delivery (Karim Sarhane research) : To realize the therapeutic potential of IGF-1 treatment for PNIs, we designed, optimized, and characterized a novel local delivery system for small proteins using a new FNP-based encapsulation method that offers favorable encapsulation efficiency with retained bioactivity and a sustained release profile for over 3 weeks. The IGF-1 NPs demonstrated favorable in vivo release kinetics with high local loading levels of IGF-1 within target muscle and nerve tissue.

Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is a particularly promising candidate for clinical translation because it has the potential to address the need for improved nerve regeneration while simultaneously acting on denervated muscle to limit denervation-induced atrophy. However, like other growth factors, IGF-1 has a short half-life of 5 min, relatively low molecular weight (7.6 kDa), and high water-solubility: all of which present significant obstacles to therapeutic delivery in a clinically practical fashion (Gold et al., 1995; Lee et al., 2003; Wood et al., 2009). Here, we present a comprehensive review of the literature describing the trophic effects of IGF-1 on neurons, myocytes, and SCs. We then critically evaluate the various therapeutic modalities used to upregulate endogenous IGF-1 or deliver exogenous IGF-1 in translational models of PNI, with a special emphasis on emerging bioengineered drug delivery systems. Lastly, we analyze the optimal dosage ranges identified for each mechanism of IGF-1 with the goal of further elucidating a model for future clinical translation.

The positive trophic and anti-apoptotic effects of IGF-1 are primarily mediated via the PI3K-Akt and MAP-kinase pathways (Ho and 2007 GH Deficiency Consensus Workshop Participants, 2007; Chang et al., 2017). Autophosphorylation of the intracellular domain of IGF-1 receptors results in the activation of insulin receptor substrates 1–4, followed by activation of Ras GTPase, and then the successive triggering of Raf, MEK, and lastly ERK. Through activation of Bcl-2, ERK has been shown to prevent apoptosis and foster neurite growth. Ras activation also triggers aPKC and Akt (Homs et al., 2014), with the active form of the latter inhibiting GSK-3ß and thus inhibiting a number of pro-apoptotic pathways (Kanje et al., 1988; Schumacher et al., 1993; Chang et al., 2017). Additionally, the JAK-STAT pathway is an important contributor toward the stimulation of neuronal outgrowth and survival by facilitating Growth Hormone (GH) receptor binding on target tissue to induce IGF-1 release (Meghani et al., 1993; Cheng et al., 1996; Seki et al., 2010; Chang et al., 2017). These biochemical mechanisms enable GH and IGF-1 to exert anabolic and anti-apoptotic effects on neurons, SCs, and myocytes (Tuffaha et al., 2016b).