KANSAS CITY, Mo., Oct. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- A new national initiative, the Pediatric Trials Network (PTN), was created this week with a $95 million grant supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The PTN will be led through collaboration between the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and several of the country's preeminent pediatric medical centers, including Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics.  

Gregory L. Kearns, PharmD, PhD, Chairman of the Department of Medical Research at Children's Mercy, will serve as a co-principal investigator for the PTN along with Daniel Benjamin, Jr., MD, PhD of Duke University, and will direct the clinical pharmacology initiatives.  

"Over the past decade and a half, research completed by the pediatric clinical pharmacology program at Children's Mercy has provided firm proof-of-concept that the best of science and technology can be incorporated into the design of necessary clinical trials of medications in children," explained Dr. Kearns. "These accomplishments have provided a cornerstone which in large measure has enabled the birth of the new Pediatric Trial Network."

The vast majority of drugs approved for the treatment of children have not been tested in children, and less than 20 percent of these drugs are labeled for pediatric use. The PTN will use data collected to help inform pediatric drug labeling, providing valuable new information about medical treatments of children to regulators and pediatricians.

Over the next seven years, it is projected that the PTN will focus on the study of therapeutic drugs identified by NICHD through its "Best Pharmaceuticals for Children" initiative as being priority compounds for pediatric use. This will include the research of medical devices and drugs for cardiovascular diseases, cancer, infectious diseases