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Hope for non-chemo prostate cancer drug

Wednesday April 29th, 2020

The breast and ovarian cancer drug olaparib may also be effective against prostate cancer.

Olaparib is a PARP inhibitor used for advanced breast and ovarian cancer with an inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. It specifically targets cancer cells with faulty DNA repair genes.

Professor Johann de Bono of the Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK, and colleagues recruited 387 men with advanced prostate cancer who had alterations in at least one DNA repair gene.

Participants given olaparib had significantly delayed disease progression, with the most benefit seen for those with faulty BRCA1, BRCA2 or ATM genes. This group had an average of 7.4 months before disease progression, compared with 3.6 months for men given the hormone therapy drugs enzalutamide and abiraterone.

The researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine yesterday (28 April) that overall, men who were given olaparib had an average of 5.8 months before their cancer progressed, versus 3.5 months with hormonal treatment.

Professor de Bono said: "Our findings show that olaparib - a drug which targets an Achilles heel in cancer cells while sparing normal, healthy cells - can outperform targeted hormone treatments in some men with advanced prostate cancer.

"It's exciting to see a drug which is already extending the lives of many women with ovarian and breast cancer now showing such clear benefits in prostate cancer too. I can't wait to see this drug start reaching men who could benefit from it on the NHS - hopefully in the next couple of years.

"Next, we will be assessing how we can combine olaparib with other treatments, which could help men with prostate cancer and faulty DNA repair genes live even longer."

de Bono, J. et al. Olaparib for Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer. New England Journal of Medicine 28 April 2020; doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1911440

Tags: Cancer | Genetics | Men's Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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