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.


PARP Inhibitor Shows Activity in Pancreatic, Prostate Cancers Among Patients Carrying BRCA Mutations

In the largest clinical trial to date to examine the efficacy of PARP inhibitor therapy in BRCA 1/2 carriers with diseases other than breast and ovarian cancer, the oral drug olaparib was found to be effective against advanced pancreatic and…