A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that Olaparib, a pill which is a part of chemotherapy, can focus on an Achilles heel in prostate tumors with a weakness in their ability to fix damaged DNA. Right now, it is very close to getting an approval as the principal genetically targeted treatment for prostate cancer.
This medicine is a type of treatment known as PARP inhibitor which particularly targets cancer cells with damaged DNA and is more effective against prostate cancer than the advanced targeted hormone treatments like enzalutamide and abiraterone. It blocks prostate cancer growth. The present study is funded by AstraZeneca.
The researchers from The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Northwestern University in Chicago, US, with colleagues from all around the globe studied more than three hundred men with advanced prostate cancer. They had alterations in at least one of 15 DNA repair genes. The specialists found that olaparib drugs can significantly delay disease progression in men with defective DNA repair genes.
Olaparib appeared most effective in men with prostate cancer who had defective BRCA1, BRCA2, or ATM genes and in those who had alterations in any other twelve pre-selected DNA repair genes. Researchers are much excited because olaparib is more effective in men with DNA repair alterations as compared to enzalutamide and abiraterone.
In the past, olaparib was associated with the most common adverse effects, nausea, and anemia but this study shows that olaparib is a very tolerated treatment and is more useful for patients than chemotherapy.
Researchers are currently planning to see olaparib accessible on the NHS for patients with prostate cancer and defective DNA repair genes in the following two years. After this, they will look at olaparib for some other treatments with the point of improving results much further.
Johann de Bono is study co-leader, a Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust tells that olaparib, a medication that is already proved effective against ovarian and breast cancer currently showing clear advantages in prostate cancer as well. He is hardly waiting to see this medication begin reaching men who could benefit by bit on the NHS in the following years.
After this, researchers will assess how they can combine this medication with other treatments that could assist men with prostate malignant growth and defective DNA repair genes live much more.
Peter Isard, is a patient at The Royal Marsden who went on hormone therapy and chemotherapy after diagnosis. After half a year of finishing chemotherapy, his PSA was high. Doctors told him his chance of living for a long time is very low. After this, he was shifted to The Royal Marsden where Prof de Bono found that he had a genetic mutation that would make him appropriate for an olaparib trial.
The patient said, “ I’ve been on the drug for almost two years now. I had a number of tumors in my lymph nodes, but now there is the only one that is visible and I feel incredibly lucky not to have experienced any side-effects whatsoever.”
In this study, the Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, Professor Paul Workman says that this treatment effectively hit an Achilles heel in men with advanced prostate cancer. These milestone discoveries imply that olaparib is presently set to turn into the first-ever genetically targeted drug for the disease.