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Olaparib May Benefit BRCA Mutation Carriers

Last Updated: June 24, 2009.

Olaparib, a new oral drug that inhibits poly(adenosine diphosphate [ADP]-ribose) polymerase, may be an effective treatment for patients with cancer associated with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, according to a study published early online June 25 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

WEDNESDAY, June 24 (HealthDay News) -- Olaparib, a new oral drug that inhibits poly(adenosine diphosphate [ADP]-ribose) polymerase (PARP), may be an effective treatment for patients with cancer associated with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, according to a study published early online June 25 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In a phase I study, Peter C. Fong, M.D., of the Royal Marsden National Health Service Foundation Trust in Sutton, U.K., and colleagues administered olaparib to 60 patients, including 22 carriers of a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation who had ovarian, breast or prostate cancer. Patients were started on a 10 milligram daily dose for two of every three weeks which was escalated to 600 milligrams twice daily continuously.

Compared to conventional chemotherapy, the researchers found that olaparib had minimal side effects which were generally mild and reversible. They observed that olaparib effectively inhibited PARP, and found that it had objective antitumor activity only in mutation carriers.

"Readers may be surprised by the editors' decision to publish a small early-stage trial, but this trial not only reports important results -- it also points to a new direction in the development of anticancer drugs," state the authors of an accompanying editorial.

The study was supported by KuDOS Pharmaceuticals, a wholly owned subsidiary of AstraZeneca; several authors reported financial relationships with either or both companies.

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