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AstraZeneca's Lynparza breast cancer trial yields "positive" results

A Phase III OlympiAD trial of Lynparza (olaparib) tablets for treating patients with HER2-negative gBRCA-mutated metastatic breast cancer has yielded positive results with a "statistically-significant and clinically-meaningful improvement in progression-free survival". Pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca presented the results of the study at the 2017 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago. 

Lynparza (olaparib) is currently has US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use as a monotherapy in treating patients with ovarian cancer who have had three or more prior lines of chemotherapy. The drug is a poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor with the ability to preferentially kill cancer cells. 

In the latest trial, patients were give two doses of 300mg a day and compared with patients given the doctors choice of standard of care chemotherapy. Those given Lynparza demonstrated a 42 percent reduction in the risk of disease progression or death compared to those who received chemotherapy. Patients involved in the trial had HER2-negative germline BRCA1 or BRCA2-mutated breast cancer and were given Lynparza as first, second or third-line medicine to treat the metastatic disease. This is the first time a PARP inhibitor has shown "a significant benefit" for patients with a condition other than ovarian cancer, according to AstraZeneca. 

Mark E Robson, clinic director of the Clinical Genetics Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and principal investigator of OlympiAD, commented: "With few alternatives available, a targeted non-chemotherapy oral treatment in this setting could be a beneficial new option for patients."

Metastatic breast cancer will be diagnosed in approximately one in eight women in the United States, with up to one-third of these expected to progress to the metastatic stage. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and in 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 250,000 cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women.

Currently, chemotherapy and surgery are the main treatments available to breast cancer patients. Among the most common chemotherapy drugs used are anthracyclines such as Adriamycin (doxorubicin), and taxanes, which include Taxol (paclitaxel) and Taxotere (docetaxel). Chemotherapy may be used after or before surgery or as the main treatment for women whose cancer has spread beyond the breast and underarm area. 

The latest trial results are not the only development in breast cancer treatments this month. A clinical trial led by NYU Langone Perlmutter Cancer Center found the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab was an effective treatment in patients with metastatic triple negative breast cancer. The drug is already FDA-approved for treating a number of other forms of cancer, including Hodgkin lymphoma, non-small cell lung cancer and urothelial cancer.