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Obstetric-Fetal Pharmacology Research Unit (OPRU) Network

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Overview

OPRU logoThe mission of the OPRU Network is to improve the safety and effective use of therapeutic drugs in women during pregnancy and lactation. The overall goal of the OPRU Network is to promote and facilitate cooperative multidisciplinary research to enhance the understanding of obstetric pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.

The OPRU Network provides the expert infrastructure needed to test therapeutic drugs during pregnancy. The Network allows researchers to conduct safe, technically sophisticated, and complex studies that will help clinicians protect women's health, improve birth outcomes, and reduce infant mortality.

A number of factors influence pharmacology during both normal and abnormal pregnancies, such as a lengthened period of intestinal transfer, increased cardiac output, increased glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and altered composition of plasma sex hormones. However, very little is known about the effects of these variables on drugs that are necessary for the health and well-being of pregnant women and their fetuses.

The Network was established in 2004 within the NICHD Obstetric and Pediatric Pharmacology (OPP) Branch (now the Obstetric and Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics Branch [OPPTB]) and currently comprises four research units around the country, plus a Data Coordinating Center (DCC).

Funded through the U10 cooperative agreement mechanism, each OPRU contains three components:

  • A pharmacology component that conducts pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and pharmacogenetic studies
  • A clinical studies component that tests the disposition and efficacy of drugs whose pharmacology is affected by pregnancy
  • A multidisciplinary basic or nonclinical research component to investigate the mechanisms of drug disposition and response in pregnancy

Topic Areas

Current OPRU research topics include (but are not limited to) studies of the efficacy, pharmacology, placental transfer, and placental biotransformation of drugs and therapeutics intended to:

  • Treat gestational diabetes and type II diabetes, such as glyburide and metformin
  • Alter uterine activity, such as drugs or therapeutics used to delay or prevent preterm birth
  • Treat severe nausea and other side effects of pregnancy
  • Treat other serious conditions in pregnant women, including cancer, rejection of a transplanted organ, and high blood pressure

Visit the OPRU website for a complete list of current studies External Web Site Policy.

Current Sites

RTI International is currently the DCC for the OPRU.

More Information

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Last Updated Date: 10/01/2014
Last Reviewed Date: 09/22/2014
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