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PARP Inhibitors Slow Breast Cancer Growth

Posted Jul 14 2010 7:11am
A new class of breast cancer therapy drugs, called PARP inhibitors, has been receiving a lot of attention and positive press over the last year.  PARP inhibitors are drugs that block an enzyme called poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase that is involved in DNA repair.  Earlier research published last year showed that one PARP inhibitor showed antitumor activity in breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers linked to BRCA gene mutations .

The results of a new breast cancer research study continues to show the potential breast cancer fighting benefits of these PARP inhibitors.   This new study assigned women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations and advanced breast cancer to treatment with either 100 mg or 400 mg twice daily of the PARP inhibitor olaparib.  Examination of the safety and effectiveness of this PARP inhibitor showed that
  • 41% of patients receiving 400 mg twice daily showed substantial breast cancer tumor shrinkage.
  • Another 12 of the patients (44%) receiving the high dose of olaparib showed some breast cancer tumor shrinkage or remained stable.
  • In the group of women receiving the lower dose of olaparib, 22% showed significant tumor shrinkage and 44% experienced a lack of breast cancer progression or modest breast tumor shrinkage.
  • Side effects were mainly observed at a low level and included nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and anemia.
This new breast cancer research continues to shine a very positive light on PARP inhibitors as a new form of breast cancer therapy.  According to a related press release , PARP inhibitors work because breast cancer cells that lack the BRCA gene are unable to survive when they lack both the BRCA and PARP proteins needed for DNA repair.  While this makes the breast cancer cells susceptible, normal,  non-breast cancer cells are apparently only minimally effected.  If future studies continue to show similar benefits, PARP inhibitors might become an exciting new breast cancer therapy for BRCA breast cancer patients.  The video below discusses this in more detail.

Discoveries in breast cancer therapy continue to happen rapidly; however, that does not mean that there aren't things we can do to fight breast cancer.  Read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer to learn what you can do to reduce your personal breast cancer risk.
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