Targeted drug Olaparib improves survival in early-stage breast cancer

pharmafile | March 17, 2022 | News story | Business Services  

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, has reported new findings that the targeted drug olaparib improves survival in women with high-risk, early-stage breast cancer who have inherited faults in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.

The latest results from the major Phase III OlympiA trial show that olaparib added to standard treatment cuts the risk of women dying by 32 per cent – resulting in more women remaining cancer free after their initial treatment.

Researchers studied 1,836 patients with HER-2 negative breast cancer, who also had a mutation in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes and had undergone standard treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapies and radiotherapy. Patients were randomly allocated to receive either 300mg twice daily of olaparib or a placebo for one year, and were then followed up.

Olaparib targets the specific biology of the BRCA genes, killing cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. The ICR worked with numerous partners, including Breast Cancer Now and Cancer Research UK, to discover how to use olaparib and other PARP inhibitor drugs for patients with mutations in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, or faults in other DNA repair genes.

OlympiA steering committee chair Professor Andrew Tutt, Professor of Oncology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and King’s College London, commented: “Today’s results are great news for many women with inherited breast cancer. Most breast cancers are identified in the early stages and many patients will do very well, but for some, the risk of cancer returning remains unacceptably high, even after chemotherapy.

“OlympiA has shown that after selecting women with inherited BRCA mutations through genetic testing, we can use olaparib to directly target the weakness in their cancer and improve their survival. I hope to see BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing used for more women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, so that we can determine who can benefit from this personalised treatment approach. Olaparib provides a much needed new individualised and targeted treatment option to keep more women with inherited breast cancer free of disease and alive and well after their initial treatment.”

Lina Adams

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