New test for ovarian cancer patients

Nov 09, 2010
New test for ovarian cancer patients

Scientists have developed a new test to select which patients with ovarian cancer will benefit from new drugs called PARP inhibitors, according to research presented at the National Cancer Research Institute Cancer Conference in Liverpool.

PARP inhibitors are the first targeted treatment to be developed for women with inherited forms of breast and ovarian cancer carrying faults in a BRCA gene. Early results from clinical trials are showing promise for patients with the rare inherited forms of these cancers.

But this new test shows that even more patients - 60 per cent of all patients with ovarian cancer - may benefit from PARP inhibitors.

Inherited ovarian cancer accounts for up to 15 per cent of all cases of the disease. Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in females in the UK. There are around 6,850 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed each year in the UK - around 130 women every week.

Dr. Asima Mukhopadhyay, presenting the results, said: “Our results show that this new test is almost 100 per cent effective in identifying which ovarian cancer patients could benefit from these promising new drugs.

“We have only been able to carry out this work because of the great team we have here which includes both doctors and scientists.”

The team based at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead and the Newcastle Cancer Centre at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University collaborated with Pfizer Inc to develop the new assay to test tumour samples taken from patients when they had surgery.

The test, called the RAD51 assay, scans the cancer cells and identifies which tumour samples contain defective DNA repair that can be targeted by the PARP inhibitor. The PARP inhibitor studied, PF-01367338 - formerly known as AG-14699 - was found to selectively block the spread of tumour cells with low RAD51 expression.

The test has been used to examine tumour samples in the laboratory and is not yet suitable for routine clinical practice but the team hope to refine it for use in patients.

Dr. Mukhopadhyay added: “Now we hope to hone the test to be used directly with patients and then carry out . If the trials are successful we hope it will help doctors treat patients in a personalised and targeted way based on their individual tumour.”

It is also now hoped that PARP inhibitors will be useful for a broad range of cancers and we hope this test can be extended to other cancer types.

Dr. Lesley Walker, Cancer Research UK’s director of cancer information, said: “It’s exciting to see the development of promising new ‘smart’ drugs such as PARP inhibitors. But equally important is the need to identify exactly which sub groups of patients will benefit from these new treatments.

“Tests like this will become invaluable in helping doctors get the most effective treatments quickly to patients, sparing them from unnecessary treatments and side effects.”

Explore further: Pain and itch may be signs of skin cancer

Provided by Newcastle University

4.5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Synthetic lethality: A new way to kill cancer cells

Feb 22, 2010

Ovarian and breast cancer treatments being developed that mix a protein inhibitor and traditional anticancer drugs are showing signs of success, according to a new review for Faculty of 1000 Biology Reports.

New route to killing cancer gets a test run

Jun 24, 2010

A targeted therapy that has generated excitement for its early success in breast cancer is now being tested in the Triangle on other cancers, including often-deadly ovarian tumors.

Breakthrough vaccine to treat chemo-resistant ovarian cancer

Mar 08, 2007

Cancer Treatment Centers of America announced today its plans to launch a new cancer vaccine therapy that expands treatment options for thousands of women with advanced stage ovarian cancer. This innovative treatment will ...

Recommended for you

Pain and itch may be signs of skin cancer

12 hours ago

Asking patients if a suspicious skin lesion is painful or itchy may help doctors decide whether the spot is likely to be cancerous, according to a new study headed by Gil Yosipovitch, MD, Chairman of the Department of Dermatology ...

Genetics of cancer: Non-coding DNA can finally be decoded

15 hours ago

Cancer is a disease of the genome resulting from a combination of genetic modifications (or mutations). We inherit from our parents strong or weak predispositions to developing certain kinds of cancer; in addition, we also ...

User comments : 0