Management of pre-term labour via an application for pathway selective EP2 agonist

Reference number 10457

Sectors: Pharmaceuticals

Industries: Therapeutics

Imperial inventors have identified an EP2 receptor agonist with an application as a novel tocolytic for the management of pre-term labour. It is long-acting, inhibits contractility and does not activate pro-inflammatory pathways.


Globally, pre-term birth complications are the leading cause of both infant death and long-term infant disability. Current tocolytic drugs (drugs that inhibit contractions of women in labour) used to manage pre-term labour are primarily limited to oxytocin receptor antagonists and beta-adrenergic receptor agonists.

Both of these drug classes can only temporarily inhibit contractions (max 48 hours), allowing the patient to be transported to a specialist neonatal ICU. Beta-adrenergic receptor antagonists are associated with adverse effects on the mother’s cardiovascular system. Oxytocin receptor antagonists, whilst deemed safer than beta-adrenergic receptor antagonists, activate G protein-dependent pro-inflammatory pathways, potentially exposing the unborn baby to a prolonged inflammatory environment which may be harmful to the developing brain and lungs.

Thus there is a pressing need for safe and efficacious tocolytic drugs which can prolong pregnancy for an extended period of time, whilst also targeting the inflammatory environment of the pre-term uterus.


The invention is a novel application of a pathway selective long-acting agonist for the EP2 prostaglandin receptor for use as a tocolytic. It is a long-acting EP2 agonist that inhibits contractility whilst simultaneously inhibiting cytokine release from monocytes and lymphocytes. The compound only activates the anti-labour cAMP pathway without inducing signals which increase inflammation, and as such in unique among tocolytics in inhibiting both contractility and inflammatory pathways.


The compound would find application as a novel long-acting tocolytic for the management of pre-term labour, whilst also targeting the pro-inflammatory uterine environment. The long-lasting action also suggests that a single treatment may be sufficient for tocolytic applications.


  • Novel tocolytic application of the long-acting EP2 receptor agonist.
  • The compound inhibits contractility without activating pro-inflammatory pathways, unlike leading EP2 receptor agonist tocolytics.
  • The combined attributes of the compound, long-lasting action and targeting of the inflammatory uterine environment, are unique among tocolytics.

Intellectual Property

This technology is subject of a Priority patent application.


Professor Phillip Bennett

Clinical Professor
Faculty of Medicine, Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction

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Dr Alexandra Skeaping

Industry Partnerships and Commercialisation Executive, Medicine

Dr Alexandra Skeaping is Industry Partnerships and Commercialisation Officer for the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London.

Contact Alexandra

+44 (0)20 7594 2512

[email protected]

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