The past year has been filled with exciting advancements in the treatment for patients with ovarian cancer. New drugs, strategies, and choices are giving patients more advanced and effective tools in their fight against ovarian cancer.
There are now three different PARP inhibitors approved by the FDA for use in patients with ovarian cancer. PARP inhibitors are oral drugs that are used to treat cancer or possibly delay its recurrence. They have been shown to work the best in patients with BRCA1/2 mutations or those whose tumors are HRD positive.
- Lynparza® (olaparib) is approved by the FDA for patients with germline (hereditary) BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer who have received three or more prior lines of chemotherapy. It was recently approved for use as a maintenance therapy for patients with recurrent (relapsed) ovarian cancer who have responded to a type of chemotherapy called platinum (known as “platinum sensitive”). Because of how PARP inhibitors work, patients with BRCA-mutated tumors are more likely to benefit from olaparib maintenance therapy.
- RubracaTM (rucaparib) is also approved by the FDA for patients with either germline (hereditary) or somatic (tumor) BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer who have received two or more prior lines of chemotherapy.
- ZejulaTM (niraparib) was recently approved by the FDA as a maintenance therapy for patients with recurrent platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer. Similar to olaparib, patients with BRCA mutations or those with a specific feature in their tumors called homologous recombination deficiency (HRD) are more likely to benefit from niraparib maintenance therapy.
Additionally, there is a lot of excitement around PARP inhibitors and immunotherapy, it’s great to see that pharmaceutical companies are beginning to collaborate in their quests to identify effective combination therapies. Merck and AstraZeneca recently established a strategic oncology collaboration for their PD-L1/PD-1 drugs and Lynparza. This is not the only such collaboration, which is amazing news for patients. This cooperation will allow research and expertise to be shared in ways it historically hasn’t been and will hopefully bring even more effective treatment options to patients in the future.
Personalized medicine is advancing every year with new treatment options constantly emerging. In a recent interview, Dr. Douglas Levine of NYU Langone Medical Center sums up the last year in ovarian cancer treatment with a simple statement, “I’d like people to realize that we are making progress. Patients with ovarian cancer are living longer and better.”