PARP Inhibitors Bring Encouraging Results to Ovarian Cancer Patients
- PARP inhibitors are a kind of therapy that inhibit targeted proteins (PARP proteins) in cancer cells, which causes cell death amongst cancerous cells.
- The drugs are an option for women as maintenance therapy after first chemotherapy or platinum sensitive recurrence, or as treatment for recurrence.
- There are different types of PARP inhibitors available for women with ovarian cancer, including Lynparza (olaparib), Zejula (niraparib), and Rubraca (rucaparib).
- The different PARP inhibitors do have some varying side effects, which oncologists need to evaluate carefully.
How PARP Inhibitors Work
One of the key things to know about PARP inhibitors is that your genetic makeup and specific features of your cancer will have a significant impact on how effective these drugs may be. Experts tell SurvivorNet that every woman with ovarian cancer should get a genetic test to determine if they have a mutation called BRCA, because the mutation enables PARP inhibitors to function much more powerfully. Importantly, there is increasing data that even women without BRCA mutations can still derive some benefit from these drugs.Read More
Which PARP Inhibitors are Available For Newly-Diagnosed Epithelial ovarian cancer?
- The PARP inhibitor Zejula (niraparib) has been approved by the FDA for all women with newly-diagnosed ovarian cancer regardless of whether the tumor is HRD or whether the patient has the BRCA gene. The drug is used after successful treatment with a platinum-based chemotherapy, the mainstay chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.
- Due to limited benefit in progression free survival seen in the absence of HRD, gynecologic oncologists differ on whether PARP inhibitors should be universally recommended in the “upfront maintenance setting.” Each patient should be made aware of risks and benefits to PARP inhibitor maintenance and decide with their oncologist what is the best treatment plan for them.
- The PARP inhibitor Lynparza (olaparib) is approved for women newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer and with a germline or somatic mutation in BRCA1/2.
- Lynparza is also approved in combination with Avastin (bevacizumab) for women with HRD. Avastin is a blood vessel growth inhibitor, which works by starving the tumor of vital nutrients needed to grow.
Using PARPs To Treat Recurrence
Unfortunately, too often, ovarian cancer comes back.
For women with ovarian cancer who have had a recurrence and responded to platinum-based chemotherapy, Lynparza, Zejula and another PARP inhibitor called Rubraca (rucaparib) are FDA approved for use as a maintenance therapy, regardless of whether a woman has a BRCA mutation or HRD.
For some women who have had prior chemotherapy treatments, Rubraca, Zejula or Lynparza may also be options. These uses are based on factors such as number of prior therapies and BRCA mutation or HRD.
The Future of PARP Inhibitor Treatment
PARP inhibitor combinations also must be further studied to figure out how to expand the usage and efficacy.
Then there’s the matter of possible resistance to the PARP inhibitors. Sometimes patients will become resistant to PARP inhibitors. Researchers are trying to understand how best to use other agents and methods to neutralize the potential for resistances. Fortunately, there are a lot of labs working on the answer to that question now, in addition to conducting further clinical trials.