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J Toxicol Sci. 2009;34 Suppl 2:SP209-15.

Comparative juvenile safety testing of new therapeutic candidates: relevance of laboratory animal data to children.

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Drug Safety Research and Development, Pfizer, Inc., Groton, Connecticut 06340, USA.


Differences in drug response in patients of various ages including children and the elderly are common, often leading to challenges in optimizing dosages and duration of use. For example, developmental changes in renal function can dramatically alter the plasma clearance of compounds with extensive renal elimination and thus can enhance renal and systemic toxicity of these drugs. Preclinical and clinical research of new therapeutics is initially focused on adults, and provides little relevant information for children especially those who are still going through skeletal and organ development. The organ systems in the pediatric population that can be most susceptible are lungs, brain, kidneys, immune, skeletal, and reproductive systems. Considering that significant differences can exist between adult and juvenile populations that may affect drug safety, major regulatory agencies around the world are encouraging and sometimes requiring companies to generate preclinical juvenile animal data to predict for potential drug toxicity in children. However, data generated from such studies are useful only if obtained using the most appropriate species at the most relevant age considering comparability of specific organ system development in question. Other factors in the design of juvenile safety studies should include the indication, existing toxicological data and likely route of human exposure. This report will discuss these factors with a focus on reviewing species-specific developmental schedules for specific target organs and relevance of preclinical data in the design and conduct of clinical pediatric studies. Specific examples will be used to discuss the relationship of preclinical juvenile toxicity observations to risk assessment in humans.

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