LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Even though this comes from a small study of just 60 patients, some are calling this the most important cancer treatment breakthrough in a decade. They are pills called PARP, P-A-R-P inhibitors.
The development of PARP goes back to the early 90's when scientists discovered that two genes, BRCA 1 and 2 put women at risk for breast and ovarian cancer, and men at risk of prostate cancer.
After years of study, researchers have found that PARP inhibitors can combine with the defective genes, then work against them, killing the tumors.
Patients are reporting none of the typical side effects we see with chemo now. No nausea, no vomiting, and no hair loss. Most patients given the drug saw their cancer stop, or start to go away.
"We were surprised and delighted. It's the kind of thing you don't really think will happen," says Dr. Stan Kaye with London Royal Marsden Hospital. Dr. Susan Domcheck with the University of Pennsylvania adds, "This actually is a truly exciting step forward and really should energize all of us toward what science can do for patients."
"I went up there with growing cancer, measurable cancer and I'm to the point now where the cat scans show no evidence of disease. There's nothing to measure," says cancer patient Patricia Buckles.
The study in the New England Journals of Medicine says these PARP inhibitors could move cancer treatment into a whole new direction.
Experts say this research is in the early stages, and much more needs to be done before this drug is up for approval.
Patients who are interested in using PARP inhibitors can go to www.clinicaltrials.gov.
Important note: The study was funded by Kudos Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Astrazeneca. The drug in the study is called Plaparib. Other studies have combined PARP inhibitors with chemotherapy, and found it boosted the effect of the chemo. This study tested PARD as a single agent. The trial was phase one, and the goal was dose toleration. Trial wasn't looking for range of cancers that would benefit. The trial focused on BRCA, yet a small number of other cancers were included. Those that didn't have BRCA saw a benefit. But, the trial was so small that the verdict is not anywhere near in. One class of tumors that are similar to BRCA is triple-negative breast cancers. There may be many more.
©2009 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.