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NICHD Starts New PGx Program

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - The National Institutes of Health will support pharmacogenomics research aimed at understanding drug effects on, and targeting drugs for, children and pregnant women under a new program.

Issued by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Translational Research in Pediatric and Obstetric Pharmacology program will fund grants studying the special differences of drug actions and responses among children, development of new drugs targeting children and pregnant women, and multidisciplinary collaborations between basic and physician scientists to improve therapeutics for pediatrics and obstetrics.

"With recent advances in genetics, pharmacogenomics and basic developmental biology, as well as the expansion of robust technologies (such as microarray and proteomic technologies) and bioinformatics tools, both basic and clinical scientists are now better equipped to conduct drug research and development in children and pregnant women," NICHD explained in the request for applications.

These advances should be used to address a "lack of knowledge of appropriate drug dosage, efficacy, and safety for pediatric patients," which has led to "some therapeutic disasters" such as the drug chloramphenicol, which led to sudden cardiovascular collapse and death in some infants.

Theses research programs will fund studies of gene-drug interactions, drug-drug interactions, drug toxicity, and drug responses. NICHD also said it is encouraging scientists to undertake translational research programs that include genomic, epigenomic, proteomic, and systems biology approaches.

The list of possible topics researchers could explore include: identification, development, and validation of biomarkers to monitor progression and treatment responses; performance of genome-wide expression analysis to identify biomarkers for pharmacologic intervention in children and pregnant women; studies of genetic variations through genome-wide association analysis to determine whether genetic variants affect drug metabolism and disposition; genomic, proteomic, and epigenomics research associated with variability in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics during pregnancy and during childhood; developing novel mathematical, statistical, and computational methods to modeling and simulating PK/PD and evaluating existing methods in children and pregnant women; and other similar research areas.

Because the nature and scope of the studies will vary, NICHD expects that the size and duration of the awards it will distribute also will vary, and the total number it awards will depend on the quality, duration, and costs of the applications it receives.

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