The European Medicines Agency has recommend olaparib for approval for women with ovarian cancer who have a BRCA mutation - the first time a cancer drug will have been approved targeted at an inherited genetic fault. The Institute of Cancer Research, London, is issuing the following statement from Professor Alan Ashworth, whose work underpinned the development of olaparib.
Professor Alan Ashworth, Professor of Molecular Biology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said:
"The European Medicines Agency's recommendation that olaparib be approved for some patients with ovarian cancer marks an important moment in the development of targeted treatments for cancer. It is a great example of how collaboration can take scientific principles and turn them into treatments - showing how close interaction between researchers here at the ICR, a UK biotech and drug company, NHS hospitals and charitable funding bodies can improve the outlook for cancer patients worldwide.
"PARP inhibitors work by exploiting a weakness in cells with mutations to the BRCA genes, and have been shown to be effective in patients who developed breast, ovarian or prostate cancer after inheriting mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2. One of their strengths is that they kill cancer cells much more than healthy cells, and so cause fewer side-effects than traditional chemotherapies.
"This ruling by the EMEA marks the first time a cancer drug targeted at an inherited genetic fault will have been approved. It should be a significant step in expanding the treatment options available for patients with tumours caused by inherited BRCA mutations."
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