According to a world-leading expert, a pioneering cancer drug is set to become the first to be approved specifically for inherited cancer. This drug could also be used much more widely to treat prostate cancer.

Olaparib was recommended last month for approval, in the United Kingdom, in women with ovarian cancer and inherited BRCA mutation, is also showing promise in advanced prostate cancer.

Olaparib is a PARP inhibitor and could be effective against prostate tumors that harbored particular gene mutations even where the damaged genes were not inherited. PARP inhibitors work by exploiting a weakness in cancer cells’ DNA repair machinery.

During major international prostate cancer trials, some patients with advanced, aggressive prostate cancer had impressive responses to PARP inhibitor treatment.

Olaprib was recommended for approval by the European Medicines Agency last month for BRCA-mutated patients with platinum-sensitive, recurring ovarian cancer. This was a significant recommendation and the first of its type for a drug targeted at inherited genetic fault.

Now early clinical trials are also testing Olaparib and other PARP inhibitors in patients with a variety of other advanced cancers. These trials include patients who have not inherited BRCA mutation but do carry mutation to DNA repair genes within their tumors.

These trials could ultimately expand access to PARP inhibitors to many more patients.

It is now possible to test for DNA repair mutations in tumors. The monitor patients during the course of treatment in order to select the patients most likely to respond to treatment like PARP inhibitors based on the genetic profile of their tumor.

Although PARP inhibitors have traditionally be tested in women with inherited BRCA mutations, these new trials could give them a whole other purpose in advanced prostate cancer and other tumors with DNA repair mutations.

Although it is still too early to say whether PARP inhibitors will prove to be beneficial in prostate cancer, the initial results from the preliminary trials have been encouraging.


Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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