News

Breakthrough olaparib drug approved for advanced ovarian cancer

Olaparib extends the lives of women with advanced ovarian cancer with the BRCA gene mutation
Oliparib

A 'game-changing' ovarian cancer drug has been approved as a first-line maintenance treatment on the NHS

Olaparib is being made available through the Cancer Drugs Fund to help women in England who have advanced ovarian cancer that has spread AND who have the BRCA gene mutation.

It has been shown to extend lives by preventing the cancer getting worse and it could offer a cure for some women.

Olaparib could be given to patients much earlier as a maintenance drug

Until now, women with advanced cancer have been offered surgery and chemotherapy, with a small number being given olaparib after three rounds of chemotherapy.

    A 'game-changing' ovarian cancer drug has been approved as a first-line maintenance treatment on the NHS

    Model of breakthrough drug oliparib (in green) inhibiting a human PARP molecule
    Model of breakthrough drug oliparib (in green) inhibiting a human PARP molecule. Picture: SPL

    Olaparib is being made available through the Cancer Drugs Fund to help women in England who have advanced ovarian cancer that has spread AND who have the BRCA gene mutation.

    It has been shown to extend lives by preventing the cancer getting  worse – and it could offer a cure for some women. 

    Olaparib could be given to patients much earlier as a maintenance drug

    Until now, women with advanced cancer have been offered surgery and chemotherapy, with a small number being given olaparib after three rounds of chemotherapy.

    But patients will now be given olaparib much earlier as a maintenance drug if they have responded to first-line platinum-based chemotherapy.

    The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence predicts up to 700 women every year in England could be given the tablets, which are taken twice a day.

    Clinical data shows it reduces the risk of cancer getting worse or the patient dying by 70% compared with a placebo.

    Six out of 10 (60%) patients receiving the drug also had no progression of cancer after three years compared with 27% receiving the placebo.

    Improvements in ovarian cancer progression-free survival

    The drug can also benefit patients with advanced fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer.

    Susana Banerjee, consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London and team leader at The Institute of Cancer Research, who co-led the clinical trial, said: 'Olaparib is a practice-changing treatment.

    'Maintenance treatment with olaparib heralds a new era for women with ovarian cancer – this is the first time we have seen such dramatic improvements in progression-free survival.

    'This means that more women will have a longer time before relapse, time of chemotherapy and the possibility of survival.'

    The trial's results to date have shown that olaparib maintenance therapy extends progression-free survival by about three years in women with advanced ovarian cancer linked to BRCA mutation.

    A step towards personalised treatment

    Ovarian Cancer Action chief executive Cary Wakefield said the news had made 'personalised treatment a reality' but warned that 29% of patients with ovarian cancer still miss out on genetic testing.

    Olaparib is a poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor and works by preventing the PARP protein in cancer cells from repairing damaged DNA, which causes cancer cells to die.

    Target Ovarian Cancer chief executive Annwen Jones said: 'For the first time women with a BRCA mutation will be able to access this game-changing, new generation of ovarian cancer drugs from their first round of treatment.

    'For many women this represents a long overdue improvement.'


    In other news

    Sign up to continue reading for FREE

    OR

    Subscribe for unlimited access

    Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

    • Full access to cancernursingpractice.com
    • Bi-monthly digital edition
    • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
    • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
    • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

    This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

    Jobs