PARP drugs could help more women than predicted, study finds

16 January 2012

More patients than anticipated could benefit from a new ovarian cancer treatment, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University Knight Cancer Institute found that faulty genes could be significant in finding new treatments for the disease, but also that the enzyme poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) could prove crucial to the types of drugs developed.

Published in the medical publication PLoS ONE, the study found that a change in the body's ability to repair its own DNA could be the link scientists need to prove that a new class of drugs called PARP inhibitors will be effective in treating ovarian cancer patients.

Out of 186 patients tested for the purpose of the study, 41 per cent of ovarian cancer sufferers were found to have an early recurrence of the disease and had abnormal levels of the proteins.

"If we are able to identify the proteins that differentiate these patients at risk for early recurrence, this would open up a new direction in ovarian cancer treatment," said Tanja Pejovic, who led the research.

Treating women with olaparib, a type of experimental PARP inhibitor, after their initial cancer treatment, could help to prevent their ovarian cancer from recurring, according to an earlier trial by University College London's Professor Jonathan Ledermann.

Posted by Edward Bartel

Ledermann, J., et al., "Phase II randomized placebo-controlled study of olaparib (AZD2281) in patients with platinum-sensitive relapsed serous ovarian cancer", ASCO 2011.

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