In the United States, one in ten babies is born prematurely. The earlier in pregnancy a baby is born, the more likely s/he will have an extended hospital stay, as well as serious health complications such as respiratory distress syndrome, necrotizing enterocolitis, vision problems and infection. Women who have had a previous premature birth and women diagnosed with a short cervix in mid pregnancy are at high risk for preterm birth, and are typically prescribed a progesterone product to reduce this risk. There are currently only two general progesterone products available to women at risk for pre-term birth, each having drawbacks associated with variable efficacy and ease of use. Moreover, none of the available progesterone products have received approval from the Federal Drug Administration for use in pregnant women diagnosed with a short cervix. To improve treatment options for women having one or both clinical risk factors for a preterm birth, Dar Bioscience is advancing the development of a novel intravaginal ring, called DARE-FRT1. DARE-FRT1 offers women a patient-friendly, extended-release progesterone product that delivers a relatively constant level of the drug in close proximity to the cervix, where progesterone action regulates inflammation, contractility, and other activities associated with labor. An in vivo preclinical study demonstrated that DARE-FRT1 slowly releases bioidentical progesterone over at least 14 days. Building on these strong foundational studies we aim to (i) complete IND- enabling in vitro DARE-FRT1 product stability studies to ensure consistent and product and (ii) evaluate the comparative pharmacokinetics of different DARE-FRT1 doses in a first-in-human clinical study. Thus, DARE- FRT1 holds promise to be the first simple, safe, and convenient method to extend the term of gestation in women at high risk for preterm birth, improving overall health outcomes, and reducing infant mortality.

Public Health Relevance

Infants that are born prematurely, before 37 weeks of pregnancy, are likely to have more health problems than those carried to term, including serious problems that affect the brain, lungs, vision, and hearing. Progesterone is a natural hormone that is involved in maintaining healthy pregnancies, and progesterone supplementation is the gold standard of treatment for women who are at high risk for premature birth. This project aims to develop an intravaginal ring device to supply bioidentical progesterone to the cervix and vaginal epithelia of at-risk women, to prevent preterm birth and improve neonatal outcomes.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
Program Officer
Lee, June
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Dare Bioscience, Inc.
San Diego
United States
Zip Code