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To date, preterm labor is a condition for which only treatments with limited efficacy or restrictive safety issues are available. In the US, nifedipine, which is approved for the treatment of hypertension, is used off-label as a tocolytic to suppress uterine contractions and delay birth. Approved tocolytic treatments in Europe include intravenous infusions of atosiban (an oxytocin receptor antagonist) and beta-adrenergic agonists such as salbutamol and tertbutaline sulfate, which carry severe maternal cardiovascular risks.
While NSAIDs can also be effective for controlling preterm labor, use of such drugs is very limited, due to the threat of serious and sometimes life-threatening side effects to the fetus. Such side effects may include kidney function impairment, premature constriction of the blood vessel connecting the pulmonary artery and the descending aorta in a developing fetus, and higher risk of thrombosis of the intestinal arteries (a condition called necrotizing enterocolitis).
ObsEva is currently advancing OBE022, a potential first-in-class, once daily, oral and selective PGF2α receptor antagonist designed to control preterm labor by reducing inflammation, decreasing uterine contractions, and preventing cervical changes and membrane ruptures.
For a list of all ObsEva clinical trials in the area of preterm birth, click here.