PARP Inhibitors and Ovarian Cancer Gene Mutations
- PARP inhibitors, which are drugs that work by preventing ovarian cancer cells to repair their own damaged DNA, often work best in women with BRCA gene mutations
- The drugs can work for women without these mutations, too — it’s just that the mutations generally enable a better response
- Genetic testing can help women determine if they have one of these mutations
“Basically, PARP inhibitors are forcing cancer cells — instead of repairing their DNA and continuing to persist and kind of hobbling along and continue to help that tumor grow and develop– PARP inhibitors cause those cancer cells to die,” explains Sheryl Walker, a genetic counselor at Genome Medical in Dallas, Texas. “It forces them down the path towards self-destruction essentially.”Read More
Most recently, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) released new guidelines recommending PARP inhibitors be offered to women, with or without genetic mutations, who are newly diagnosed with stage III or IV ovarian cancer and have improved with chemotherapy.
“So if we can isolate and figure out which mutations are driving that tumor, pushing it forward, causing it to grow and develop, and we can target those specifically, that patient’s going to have a better response,” Walker explains. “They’re going to have a more effective treatment, and they’re hopefully going to have a better prognosis, which is very exciting.”