For women with advanced breast cancer who carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, an experimental drug could improve survival, a new study suggests.
The BRCA mutations are linked with a greater risk for aggressive breast and ovarian cancer. The drug, talazoparib, works by blocking an enzyme called poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP), thus preventing cancer cells from killing healthy ones.
In a phase 3 trial of 431 women, funded by the drug's maker, those who received talazoparib lived longer without their cancer progressing than women treated with standard chemotherapy by an average of three months, researchers found.
"For women with metastatic breast cancer and a BRCA mutation, PARP inhibitors may be considered for their treatment," said lead researcher Dr. Jennifer Litton, an associate professor of breast medical oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
When it's functioning properly, BRCA actually helps repair damaged DNA and prevents tumors, but when BRCA1 and BRCA2 go awry, they encourage breast cancers.
PARP inhibitors such as talazoparib appear to interfere with the function of mutated BRCA in breast cells, causing them to die rather replicate.
In addition, several ongoing studies are looking at combinations with PARP inhibitors "to try to expand who may benefit or lengthen how long they may work," Litton said.
The trial results are preliminary, as talazoparib has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
In January, the FDA approved the first PARP inhibitor, Lynparza, to treat BRCA-mutated breast cancer.
Similar drugs have already been used to treat advanced, BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer, according to the agency.
Source : www.drugs.com