LynparzaTM (olaparib), a new drug treatment for women with advanced ovarian cancer associated with defective BRCA genes also appears to slowe the progression of breast cancer caused in part by mutations in the BRCA gene. BRCA is an inherited condition that causes up to 3% of all breast cancers. BRCA + breast cancer is particularly hard to treat, and there has been a trend in recent years that these women opt for double mastectomies in order to lower their cancer risk.
About BRCA Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women, with some 250,000 cases likely to be diagnosed in the U.S. this year, according to the American Cancer Society. About 3 percent of breast cancers are in people who inherited BRCA mutations. Mutations in the BRCA gene raise the risk of cancer because they make the body less likely to repair damage to its DNA, making the mutations that lead to cancer more likely.
LynparzaTM is a poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor that blocks enzymes involved in repairing damaged DNA. It was initially approved for women with heavily pretreated ovarian cancer that is associated with defective BRCA genes. By disrupting cancer cells’ ability to repair themselves PARP inhibitors slow uncontrolled growth and replication of cancer cells.
In the current clinical study of 302 women whose breast cancer had spread, Lynparza reduced the risk of cancer growing by 42% compared to treatment with chemotherapy. Overall 60% of the patients who received Lynparza experienced a response compared to only 29% of those treated with chemotherapy. The time to cancer progression was delayed almost twice as long for Lynparza treated patients compared to those receiving chemotherapy.
Lynparza is the first drug that targets an inherited genetic change in breast cancer. Ongoing clinical trials will determine its optimal use for women with BRCA + breast caner. LynparzaTM is an example of how a greater understanding of the underlying mechanisms of disease can lead to targeted, more personalized treatment.
Reference: Robson M., Im SA., Senkus E., et al, OlympiAD: Phase III trial of olaparib monotherapy versus chemotherapy for patients (pts) with HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer (mBC) and a germline BRCA mutation (gBRCAm), Presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, Chicago; June 2-6, 2017. http://abstracts.asco.org/199/AbstView_199_186720.html. Last accessed June 2017.
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