Thursday, June 25, 2009

Olaparib: New promising treatment for breast, ovarian and prostate cancers

Are you or any of your loved ones or contacts blighted with inherited forms of advanced breast, ovarian or prostate cancer which are associated with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations? If so, perhaps here is good news. A new oral drug Olaparib may be an effective treatment. Olaparib belongs to a new class of drug called PARP (Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase family, a human gene) inhibitors.

In a study led by the Institute of Cancer Research and reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, 19 patients with inherited forms of advanced breast, ovarian and prostate cancer caused by BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, were given Olaparib. Out of these 19, 12 (63%) had their cancer tumors shrunk or stabilized. They also experienced very few side-effects from the treatment.

One of the 12, Julian Lewis who had been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer had levels key chemical marker reduced to a low level within a month after been treated with Olaparib and had stayed low for more than 2 years. Further, secondary tumors in the bones have also almost disappeared. As for side effects from Olaparib, Julian only reported experiencing stomach discomfort and mild nausea which is a big improvement over those drastic side effects from chemotherapy.

Professor Stan Kaye, one of the researchers, said that they plan to further study whether Olaparib can be used for other more common forms of breast and ovarian cancers.

In another study at the Royal Marsden National Health Service Foundation Trust in Sutton, UK, 60 patients out of which 22 are carriers of BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, were treated with Olaparib. Dosage used was 10mg daily for 2 to 3 weeks increasing to 600mg twice daily. Patients similarly experienced few mild side effects.

Both studies were early-stage trials but were published early because the studies are pointing to a new direction in the development of anti-cancer drugs which targets specific molecular defects rather then the types of cancer.

BBC News: New cancer drug 'shows promise'
Olaparib May Benefit BRCA Mutation Carriers



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