Targeted Therapy Combo Shows Benefit in Breast and Ovarian Cancer

“Combination treatment with the poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitor olaparib plus the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor BKM120 resulted in clinical activity in women with triple-negative breast cancer and those with high-grade serous ovarian cancer.

“Patients that had BRCA-mutant and BRCA wild-type tumors responded to the treatment.

“The results of this phase I trial were presented at a press briefing at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting, held April 18 to 22 in Philadelphia.”


Trial Shows Benefit of 'BRCA-Targeting' Drug in Prostate Cancer

“Men with prostate cancer benefit from treatment with the pioneering drug olaparib – the first cancer drug to target inherited mutations – according to the results of a major trial presented today (Tuesday).

“Olaparib was licensed in December for women with ovarian cancer and inherited BRCA mutations, but the new research suggests it could also benefit men with genomic faults within their tumours.

“Researchers told the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) conference in Philadelphia that up to 30 per cent of men with advanced prostate cancer had tumours with defects in repairing DNA – and these responded particularly well to olaparib.

“The men most likely to benefit could be identified by genetic testing to look for mutations in genes responsible for DNA repair – including the BRCA genes and the gene ATM.”


Olaparib Shows Success in Tumor Response Rate for Patients with BRCA-Related Cancers

The gist: A drug called olaparib has shown promise for treating people with breast, prostate, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers. In a clinical trial with volunteer patients, olaparib was shown to shrink tumors or make them disappear in 26 percent of the patients. All patients involved had inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.

“Olaparib, an experimental twice-daily oral cancer drug, produces an overall tumor response rate of 26 percent in several advanced cancers associated with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, according to new research co-led by the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The positive response provides new hope for patients with ovarian, breast, pancreatic and prostate cancers whose conditions have not responded to standard therapies. Results of the phase II study are available online in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“For the majority of patients in the study, olaparib was at least their third different cancer therapy. Based on the new data, the authors say olaparib warrants further investigation in phase III trials. The positive response in metastatic pancreatic cancer patients who had received an average of two prior rounds of chemotherapy is an especially noteworthy finding since therapeutic options for these patients are limited.

“The international research team studied nearly 300 patients with inherited BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations who had advanced cancers that were still growing despite standard treatments. Patients were enrolled and treated at 13 centers around the world. In addition to the 26 overall shrinkage or disappearance rate in tumors following treatment with olaparib, researchers also found no further growth in cancer for at least eight weeks in 42 percent of patients.”


AstraZeneca's Olaparib May Also Work in Prostate Cancer: Expert

“AstraZeneca’s new cancer drug olaparib, which won a green light from European regulators last month for inherited ovarian cancer, could also be used much more widely to treat prostate cancer, according to a leading oncologist.

“Johann de Bono, professor of experimental cancer therapeutics at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, told a conference on Tuesday the drug had produced “encouraging” preliminary results in clinical tests against prostate cancer.

“Olaparib works by blocking an enzyme involved in cell repair and is designed for patients with hereditary BRCA gene mutations, which are also found in breast and gastric cancer.

“While AstraZeneca believes the drug has the potential to sell $2 billion a year, the company has so far only talked about its promise in ovarian, breast and gastric cancer.

“However, de Bono told the National Cancer Research Institute that olaparib might also work in patients who have not inherited BRCA mutations but do carry mutations to DNA repair genes within their tumors.

To test the theory, de Bono and colleagues have assessed olaparib in advanced prostate cancer tests, including a mid-stage Phase II clinical trial, the first part of which has now closed.

“ ‘Although PARP inhibitors like olaparib have generally been trailed in women with inherited BRCA mutations, these exciting new trials could give them a whole other lease of life in advanced prostate cancer and other tumors with DNA repair mutations,’ de Bono said.

” ‘It is too early to say whether they will prove to be beneficial in prostate cancer but the initial results from our preliminary trials have been encouraging.’ “


Olaparib Tablet Found Safe and Effective in Heavily Pretreated Patients With Ovarian Cancer

The gist: Patients with advanced ovarian cancer who have already had three to eight treatments might benefit from a new treatment that combines the drugs olaparib, paclitaxel, and carboplatin. That was the insight from a recent clinical trial—a research study with volunteer patients. The clinical trial found the combination treatment to be safe and effective at shrinking tumors, especially for women with BRCA mutations.

“A phase Ib clinical trial of the tablet form of olaparib, a PARP inhibitor, in combination with paclitaxel and carboplatin chemotherapy in heavily pretreated patients with advanced-stage ovarian cancer finds the drug to be safe and effective, especially in those women with BRCA gene mutations. The study by Rivkin et al was presented at the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research–AACR 10th Biennial Ovarian Cancer Research Symposium, held September 8 to 9, in Seattle…

“The purpose of this study was to establish the maximum-tolerated dose of olaparib and to evaluate dose-limiting toxicities and response to therapy of the tablet form of olaparib plus carboplatin and paclitaxel in women with stage III or IV ovarian cancer. The researchers enrolled 14 heavily pretreated (from three to eight prior therapies) patients in the study, aged 42 to 77. All the patients were tested for BRCA2 and BRCA2 gene mutations.

“Patients received paclitaxel and carboplatin weekly for 3 out of 4 weeks, with increasing doses of olaparib. The maximum tolerated dose of olaparib was found to be 150 mg twice daily for 3 consecutive days of each week of each cycle.”


Olaparib Maintenance for Ovarian Cancer Most Effective in Women with BRCA Mutations

Editor’s note: After initial treatment, some cancer patients receive maintenance therapy to keep their cancer from returning. In a recent clinical trial with volunteer patients, scientists tested the effectiveness of maintenance therapy for platinum-sensitive recurrent serous ovarian cancer. Some of the women had BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, and some did not. Also, all of the women had previously been treated with platinum-based chemotherapy, and experienced tumor shrinkage or complete disappearance of their tumors. In the clinical trial, scientists randomly divided the women into two groups. One group received maintenance therapy with the drug olaparib, and for comparison, the other group was treated with a “fake” placebo drug. The scientists found that women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations were more likely to benefit from the maintenance therapy treatment than women without BRCA mutations.

“Women with platinum-sensitive recurrent serous ovarian cancer who harbored BRCA mutations are more likely than BRCA wild-type patients to benefit from maintenance monotherapy with olaparib, results of a phase 2 study suggest.

“ ‘To our knowledge, our study is the first phase 2 trial in ovarian cancer to show that patients with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations respond preferentially to a PARP inhibitor,’ Jonathan Ledermann, MD, of UCL Cancer Institute at University College London, and colleagues wrote.

“Ledermann and colleagues conducted a randomized, double blind study that included 265 women with platinum-sensitive recurrent serous ovarian cancer. All patients received at least two platinum-based regimens and demonstrated a complete or partial response to their most recent platinum-based regimen.”


Experimental Breast Cancer Drug to be Trialled in Lung Cancer Patients

“A clinical trial using an experimental drug originally designed to treat breast cancer launches for patients with advanced lung cancer.

“The drug, called olaparib – a type of treatment called a PARP inhibitor – will be given after chemotherapy to patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) to see if it delays the growth of their tumour.

“The phase II trial will recruit over 100 people with advanced non-small cell lung cancer at 25 hospitals around the UK. It is funded by Cancer Research UK and AstraZeneca through a National Cancer Research Network initiative and is being co-ordinated by Cancer Research UK’s Wales Cancer Trials Unit at Cardiff University and Velindre NHS Trust in Cardiff.”

Editor’s Note: More and more, scientists are finding that different types of cancer (breast and lung cancer, for instance) can sometimes have similarities, meaning that a treatment that works for one type might also work for another type. This study is exploring once such treatment.


Breast Cancer Drugs May Also Be Effective Against Some Lung Cancers

A class of drugs already in clinical trials for breast and ovarian cancer, so-called PARP inhibitors, may also be effective against some forms of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Around half of all NSCLC tumors have low levels of ERCC1, a protein that helps repair damaged DNA. PARP inhibitors act by blocking a different DNA repair mechanism. This creates a one-two punch that kills the NSCLC tumor cells that are low in ERCC1, while healthy cells remain relatively unharmed. A recent cell culture study showed that PARP inhibitors like olaparib, niraparib, and BMN 673 killed ERCC1-deficient NSCLC cells, but not cells with normal ERCC1 levels.


Personalized Therapy Targeted to Breast and Ovarian Cancer Is Beneficial for Treating Prostate and Pancreatic Cancer

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Sheba Medical Center in Israel conducted a large multi-center study involving close to 300 patients with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations and advanced cancer. The study looked at the effect of treating various types of cancer, including prostate and pancreatic cancer, with a drug called olaparib, a PARP inhibitor. This is the largest study to date that has evaluated the effect of this type of treatment on diseases other than breast and ovarian cancer. The researchers say that targeting BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations is an important advancement in tailoring personalized treatments for any type of cancer.