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Findings that a new treatment could be used for more types of cancer than previously believed might help thousands of UK cancer patients.
During clinical trials, PARP inhibitors and olaparib – a new drug – are already proving helpful in treating cancer linked to BRCA mutations, including some breast and ovarian cancers.
Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) helped develop the treatments.
PARP inhibitors are also able to kill cancer cells with a faulty PTEN gene, revealed scientists from ICR’s Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre.
Cells with a faulty gene were up to 25 times more sensitive to PARP inhibitors than cells with a normal gene, the results published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine showed.
PTEN gene faults are common in many cancers. They cause between 30% and 80% of breast, prostate, melanoma (skin), endometrial (womb) and colon cancers.
Nearly 46,000 women in the UK are found to have breast cancer every year, with just under 12,000 dying of the disease.
Director of ICR’s Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre Professor Alan Ashworth said the results show the inhibitors are possibly a powerful treatment with few side-effects which could help many cancer sufferers.
He added that they needed to test the results from this study with a much larger group of those with PTEN-related tumours.
Copyright Press Association 2009