Olaparib: Hope for young women with advanced breast cancer

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – A study presented last weekend at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2017 annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois, shows that a new class of gene therapy drugs called PARP inhibitors delay the progression of a type of incurable breast cancer that is usually diagnosed in young women.

According to report, a phase II clinical trial had found that Olaparib, one of such drugs, considerably delayed the progression of advanced ovarian cancer in women who carry BRCA gene mutation.

That study had compelled the study presented last weekend at ASCO annual meeting, which is a phase III clinical trial of 302 patients that revealed that the drug ‘olaparib’ delayed the progression of metastatic or advanced breast cancer in women with inherited BRCA gene mutations for 42 per cent longer than standard chemotherapy.

Olaparib delayed the disease for 7 months compared to 4.2 months in women who were under standard chemotherapy only.

Another exciting discovery is that olaparib also has fewer side-effects in contrast with standard chemotherapy.

The breast cancer (BRCA) gene mutation is a mutation of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes. BRCA genes are human tumor suppressor genes found in all humans.

Olaparib is said to be the product of 20 years of research carried out at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London.

PARP inhibitors, drugs like olaparib, can kill cancer cells with mutated BRCA genes while leaving cells with healthy BRCA genes alone.

Professor Andrew Tutt, one of the scientists behind the study and Director of the Breast Cancer Now Research Centre at ICR, says, ‘It is a perfect example of how understanding a patient’s genetics and the biology of their tumour can be used to target its weaknesses and personalise treatment.’

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