Phase 1 trial indicates the successful effects of a novel cancer treatment
Completion of a Phase I clinical trial has demonstrated the great promise of a completely new type of cancer treatment, according to results announced this June in The New England Journal of Medicine by scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and the Royal Marsden Hospital in the United Kingdom, working with pharma firm AstraZeneca.
Olaparib is the first successful example of a new type of personalised medicine using ‘synthetic lethality’, in which the treatment works in combination with a patient’s own specific molecular defect. It was based on experiments conducted at the ICR and funded by Cancer Research UK and Breakthrough Breast Cancer showing that some cancers had an Achilles’ heel: If drugs such as this are used to block the PARP enzyme in the body, the tumour cells’ DNA breaks down and the cells die.
‘This is a very important drug for the treatment of BRCA1/2-related cancer,’ said ICR scientist and joint lead researcher Professor Stan Kaye, who is supported by Cancer Research UK. ‘The next step is to test this drug on other more common types of ovarian and breast cancers where we hope it will be just as effective.’
Professor Alan Ashworth, Director of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre at the ICR, who developed the approach of targeting defects in DNA repair in cancer, said that the synthetic lethality concept is now being tested in a variety of clinical trials across the world.
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