In the largest clinical trial to date to examine the efficacy of poly ADP ribose polymerase (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 prostate cancers. Results of the study, led by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Israel, will be presented during the American Society of Clinical Oncology's (ASCO) annual meeting in early June.
The multi-center research team studied nearly 300 patients with inherited BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations who had advanced cancers that were still growing despite standard treatments. Study participants, comprised of patients with breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, and other cancers, all took olaparib.
“Our results show that the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes inherited by some patients can actually be the Achilles heel in a novel, personalized approach to treat any type of cancer the patient has,” says the study's senior author, Susan Domchek, MD. “As many as 3% of patients with pancreatic and prostate cancer have an inherited mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2. Our findings have implications for many patients beyond those with breast and ovarian cancer.”
Five of 23 pancreatic cancer patients (22%) and four of eight prostate cancer patients responded to the therapy, as measured by objective clinical criteria. Importantly, the therapy also appeared to halt disease progression even in those whose tumors did not shrink: Overall survival at one year was 41% for the pancreatic cancer patients, and 50% for the prostate cancer patients. Read the study abstract, provided in advance by ASCO.