Ovarian cancer drug found to help advanced prostate cancer patients

During a small trial, a drug formulated for fighting inherited ovarian cancers has been found to assist some men suffering from advanced prostate cancer. The drug called Lynparza (olaparib) works by targeting mutations found in around 30% of men suffering from prostate cancer. Also, the drug also seems to possess the ability to help men with tumors that have acquired flaws in DNA repair.

Medical oncologist Dr. Joaquin Mateo, the lead author of the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on October 29, said that this is the first time ever in history that a drug showcasing the potential of treating advanced prostate cancer has been linked with a “clear genetic signature”. This, according to Dr. Mateo, has permitted physicians to predict whether a man will be benefited by the therapy or not. Dr. Mateo is currently working at the Institute of Cancer Research in London.

Right now, the researchers are busy conducting a fresh trial for confirming the results of the previous one. Dr. Mateo stated that he and his colleagues believed that this finding marks the most relevant step in the direction of offering personalized management to patients suffering from advanced prostate cancer based on a tumor’s characteristics.

Olaparib belongs to a category of drugs called PARP inhibitors. In 2014, it was approved by the US Food & Drug Administration for the treatment of women suffering from ovarian cancer related to defective BRCA genes. However, its use for treating prostate cancer hasn’t been approved.

Dr. Mateo said that he and his colleagues have successfully showcased the ability of olaparib in treating a specific group of men suffering from advanced prostate cancer; he believes that this finding will maximize the chances of avoiding the use of ineffective and unnecessary treatments that would not do any good to those patients.


He continued by saying that new techniques of DNA sequencing, which are more accessible and cheaper than the ones available a few years back, possess the ability to provide advanced prostate cancer patients with more precise treatment and care.

The study had 49 advanced prostate cancer patients as participants; none of them was responding to standard therapies. Out of those 49, 16 (or 33%) responded to olaparib.