Olaparib, also known for its brand name Lynparza, is a drug used to treat ovarian cancer. This drug is now being clinically tested to help cure breast cancer in women as well as other types of cancer.
It is a kind of a therapy drug which is also a PARP-1 inhibitor. PARP is the shortened term for Poly ADP-ribose Polymerase, which is a protein that aids in the repair of damaged cells.
When there is a change in the BRCA gene, which usually inhibits the growth of cells inside the breast, the cancer cells will mainly rely on the PARP to maintain a healthy DNA. In turn, when the Olaparib drug stops the PARP in reconstructing a damage in the DNA, the cancer cells will soon die. A mutated BRCA gene is most likely to turn into a breast cancer.
Experts say that this drug may help in curing breast cancer, which affects around 10,000 women in the United Kingdom in a span of one year.
It is believed that biological therapies are capable of fighting breast cancer in women, which is primarily caused by genetic errors, like that of the BRCA-1 that is being carried by Hollywood star Angelina Jolie.
Experts are now studying in Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute about the target drugs which could also be a cure for many others stricken by early signs of cancer who do not yet have such errors in their genes. This could probably save their lives if treated earlier.
The researchers said that these drugs could be useful in one of the five breast cancer types. This represents 20% of the total number of patients.
PARP inhibitor Olaparib is already being used on the National Health Service in the treatment of an advance ovarian cancer.
Although Olaparib is not yet legally approved to be used as a prescribed drug to cure breast cancer, some women from the UK are already taking this drug for clinical tests.
The Olaparib drug usually comes in a capsule form. Blood tests are also done at the beginning of the treatment and also done regularly during the whole regimen. This is for doctors to know how a patient’s kidneys and livers are working.
Common side effects of taking the Olaparib drug includes a drop in red and white blood cells of a patient, exhaustion, diarrhea, a feeling of weakness or being sick, indigestion, headaches, loss of appetite, changes in taste, and changes in one’s kidneys.
Bruising due to the drop in platelet count is one of the occasional side effects of the drug while others may experience some pain on the upper area of their stomachs just right under the ribs. Some may also have sore mouths. Inflammation of the patients’ lungs may be rare but can also be a side effect of Olaparib. This lung inflammation may cause the patient to feel shortness in his or her breath.
According to a published journal in Nature Medicine, researchers have found that there is a similarity in the genetic errors found in both breast cancer and ovarian cancer patients. Given the findings, both kinds of cancers may also be treated by therapies, however, they still recommend trials to verify this.
For Baroness Delyth Morgan, she considered these results to be a revelation.