An experimental cancer therapy that's one of a new class of PARP inhibitors produced some surprisingly positive results in a small study of cancer victims who share BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations. The drug closes a key pathway tumor cells use to repair themselves by inhibiting the enzyme PARP--Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase.
Tumors shrank or stabilized in 12 of 19 patients with breast, ovarian and prostate cancers who were treated with olaparib, according to a study by the Institute of Cancer Research. And one of the first patients treated has been in remission for two years. Significantly, the patients also reported few side effects, saying that the therapy was much easier on their bodies than chemotherapy. Researchers at the institute worked with scientists from AstraZeneca on the study.
"This drug showed very impressive results in shrinking patients' tumors," said researcher Dr. Johann de Bono. "It's giving patients who have already tried many conventional treatments long periods of remission, free from the symptoms of cancer or major side-effects."
"These two studies are very exciting," said Dr. Kelly Marcom of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center. "It speaks to a really clever understanding of the biology of the cancer."