Olaparib could become a revolutionary treatment for prostate cancer – the first genetically targeted drug for fighting the disease, say experts.
The precision medicine is already used by the NHS for ovarian cancer and has been called a game-changer by cancer doctors. A cancer conference heard how, in trials, it slowed tumor growth in men with advanced prostate cancer, reports BBC.
This could improve survival for some men, researchers hope. Experts say it could be made available to patients in the next couple of years.
The drug, made by AstraZeneca, was fast-tracked to NHS ovarian cancer patients in England, paid for through the Cancer Drugs Fund, in July.
Olaparib, also called Lynparza, works by targeting and killing cancer cells with faulty genetic code, while sparing normal cells with healthy DNA.
It won’t work for everyone with prostate cancer, but it is effective for some men with the disease, say researchers.
Patients can be tested to see if they have the genetic errors that the drug can attack – faulty DNA repair genes including BRCA1 and BRCA2.
This precision approach means the patients most likely to benefit will be treated, sparing them potential side-effects from other drugs that may not work as well for them.
In the trial, doctors compared olaparib with two other commonly prescribed prostate drugs (hormone treatments called abiraterone and enzalutamide).
It appeared to delay cancer growth by months, which researchers say should hopefully mean men can survive for longer even when their disease is advanced. They will be monitoring patients to confirm this.