Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

How can we increase the pharmaceutical clinical research of targeted therapies in pediatric PAH patients, including encouraging

Clinical research, especially randomized pharmaceutical clinical trials, poses many unique challenges compared to research in adult subjects. In pulmonary arterial hypertension, a disease characterized by high blood pressure of the lungs with increased pulmonary vascular resistance leading to right ventricular failure, there are 12 FDA-approved PAH-targeted therapies for adults. None of these medications are currently approved for use in children; however the non-approved medications are frequently used off-label in pediatric patients despite physiologic differences of adults and children and the lack of pediatric clinical trial data.

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC

Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a heterogeneous condition generally characterized by high blood pressure in the lungs and increased pulmonary vascular resistance that leads to right heart failure if left untreated. Though some causes of PAH are seen in both adult and pediatric populations, some etiologies are seen exclusively in pediatric populations, including persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, lung hypoplasia, and alveolar capillary dysplasia. Despite these differences in disease etiology, and known physiologic differences in pediatric populations, inhaled nitric oxide (iNO) in the acute setting is the only approved medication for PAH treatment in children. A number of issues have decreased pediatric PAH pharmaceutical research, including protection of the pediatric population as vulnerable subjects, principle of scientific necessity, balance of risk and potential benefit, parental consent/child assent, and feasibility of pediatric clinical trial design and implementation. Encouraging clinical trials of existing adult medications and potentially emerging, novel agents specifically for pediatrics—either through direct sponsorship or regulatory incentives—would not only lead to better outcomes for pediatric PAH patients, but potentially to a better and more comprehensive characterization of the developing pulmonary vascular system and right ventricle.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC

Several challenges exist for addressing this critical challenge. First, there are a number of differences between conducting clinical research in pediatric populations compared to adult populations. This not only includes the broad items referenced above, but items as noted by Rose and colleagues related to clinical trial design and analysis including (1) accepted age-matched normal ranges for laboratory values; (2) requirements for the validation of clinical endpoints for the assessment of efficacy and safety; and (3) standards for long-term safety monitoring and pharmacovigilance (Rose K, et al. NEJM 2005). Sponsorship of this type of clinical research is a second concern, which could either be mitigated by direct support from the National Institutes of Health of pediatric PAH clinical trials or in regulatory changes incentivizing pediatric clinical research in rare diseases.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea Katherine Kroner, Michael Patrick Gray, PHA

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Idea No. 773