This site is intended for health professionals only

Drug ‘could treat range of cancers’


A new drug could be used to treat tumours in patients with advanced ovarian or breast cancer who also have the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations.

The new drug olaparib has been found to have anti-tumour effects in this group of patients. About one in 10 women with ovarian cancer and up to one in 20 with breast cancer carry a mutation in the genes BRCA1 or BRCA2, which confers a high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

The trials suggest that treatment for ovarian, breast, and possibly other cancers can be targeted at genetic defects, rather than the organ of cancer origin, the articles published online in The Lancet said.

An international team led by Andrew Tutt from the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Unit, King’s College London School of Medicine, conducted two proof-of-concept trials to assess the efficacy and safety of olaparib for treatment of advanced ovarian or breast cancer in patients with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.

Findings indicated better treatment response with the higher dose of olaparib, compared with lower dose in both trials.

In both the ovarian and breast cancer studies, olaparib was generally well tolerated, with most adverse events being low grade.

In the report on ovarian cancer, first author M William Audeh from the Samuel Oschin Cancer Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, said: “The results of this phase two study show that the oral PARP inhibitor olaparib, given as monotherapy at a dose of 400mg twice daily, has anti-tumour activity in heavily pretreated carriers of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation who have recurrent ovarian cancer.”

Copyright Press Association 2010

The Lancet

Be in the know
Subscribe to Hospital Pharmacy Europe newsletter and magazine