Oct. 28, 2015 — A major new trial, funded in part by the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), has concluded that a pioneering drug—Olaparib—developed to treat women with inherited cancers can also benefit men with certain types of advanced prostate cancer. These exciting results were published today by the study’s leaders in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“Our trial marks a significant step forward in the treatment of prostate cancer, showing that olaparib is highly effective at treating men with DNA repair defects in their tumors,” said trial chief investigator Professor Johann de Bono, Head of Drug Development at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. “It also proves the principle that we can detect prostate cancers with specific targetable mutations using genomic sequencing to deliver more precise cancer care by matching treatment to those men most likely to benefit.”
“The potential of this landmark study for the 30% of prostate cancer patients with DNA repair defects in their tumors cannot be overstated,” said Jonathan W. Simons, MD, president and CEO of PCF. “We congratulate Dr. de Bono and all of his team on these exciting achievements.”
“This clinical trial is significant because it exploits the genetic similarities of prostate, breast and ovarian cancer,” said Howard R. Soule, PhD, executive vice president and chief science officer of PCF. “We are excited about this pioneering study because it demonstrates the tremendous crossover and wider applications in the research on these diseases. We are hopeful that the Pharma sponsor of Olaparib will soon launch pivotal clinical trials to confirm these findings and to establish overall safety and efficacy in prostate cancer for this very encouraging therapy.”
Olaparib is the world’s first medicine approved for the treatment of ovarian cancer patients with mutations of the BRCA1and BRCA2 genes, which play key roles in DNA damage repair. Mutations in these genes have been linked with the development and progression of many tumor types, including prostate cancer.
In the trial, called TOPARP-A, olaparib was found to benefit as many as a third of patients with prostate cancer, including many who did not inherit cancer genes, but whose tumors acquired defects in DNA repair overtime.
Olaparib was determined to be effective in stopping prostate cancer growth, generating lasting falls in prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels, decreases in circulating tumor cell counts in the blood, and radiological responses on CT scans and MRI.
TOPARP-A, is a major milestone in cancer treatment because it is the first to show the benefit of “precision medicine” in prostate cancer. Precision medicine is a new, transformative model of healthcare that utilizes information from tumor DNA to match a patient with the most effective course of treatment.
In addition to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, TOPARP-A received support from the Movember Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Prostate Cancer UK, and Stand Up To Cancer.
Terms to know from this article:
Increase in the size of a tumor or spread of cancer in the body.
A mass of excess tissue that results from abnormal cell division. Tumors perform no useful body function. They may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
prostate-specific antigen (PSA): A substance produced by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, or infection or inflammation of the prostate.