Conventionally, a majority of drug development is conducted in the adult population and data is extrapolated from these studies in order to guide treatment in children and pregnant women. However, due to physiological changes, drug metabolism in children and pregnant women can differ to that in the general adult population leading to incomplete knowledge about their effects. Technical, ethical, legal and financial factors tend to hinder the conduct of drug development research in children and pregnant women, leading to a lack of information on the efficiency, dosage and safety of drugs in this population. In order to improve knowledge about drug metabolism and tailor treatment in these populations, the US National Institutes of Health have announced a new programme that will fund research into improving existing drugs and developing new drugs specifically for paediatric and obstetric populations (reported by Genome Web).
Three grants are available in the Translational Research in Paediatric and Obstetric Pharmacology programme that will be issued by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The grants will support basic, translational and clinical studies and those using genomic, epigenomic, proteomic and systems biology will be encouraged. The goals of these grants are to support pharmacological studies addressing the special differences of drug actions and responses among children at various developmental stages, between children and adults, and between pregnant and non-pregnant women; development of new drug targeting children and pregnant women and multidisciplinary collaborations between basic and physician scientists to improve the use of therapeutics in obstetrics and paediatrics.