Some People Are Resistant to PARP Inhibitors, and Researchers Have Just Discovered Why

According to a story from Ovarian Cancer News, a recent study has allowed scientists to determine why some people appear to be resistant to poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitors. This class of drugs is commonly used to treat breast and ovarian cancer, particularly if the BRCA mutation is present.
In the study, scientists used the all new CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system in order to create a variety of mutations on the PARP1 gene. The researchers then were able to test the influence of the mutations on the responsiveness to common PARP inhibitor drugs. The drugs used in the study include olaparib, which was first approved to treat ovarian cancer and was more recently approved to treat BRCA mutated breast cancer in January. The study also tested talazoparib, an investigational PARP inhibitor that is currently in Phase 3 trials.

PARP inhibitors are considered exceptionally effective in treating cancers linked to the BRCA mutation, but the study found that the mutations that they manipulated in the PARP1 gene could potentially be responsible for poor responses to treatment from some patients. However, more research will have to be conducted in order to detect the mutations that can naturally occurs on PARP1 and determine which ones can prevent PARP inhibitors from working as they should.

The lead author of this study was Dr. Stephen Pettitt. He says that the data drawn from the study suggests that in the future it would be wise for patients with ovarian cancer or breast cancer to be tested for mutations on the PARP1 gene. This would allow doctors to determine if the use of PARP inhibitors as part of the treatment plan would be worthwhile for patients.

The potential for more personalized treatment could take into account the genetic composition of the patient, which would allow caregivers to select treatment approaches that are catered to these genetic differences.

The study represents the beginning of a vitally important research area that will allow professionals to understand more thoroughly the complex nature of drugs like PARP inhibitors that utilize a highly specific pathway in order to fight cancer. These new discoveries are leading to more personalized treatments for ovarian cancer patients.

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