The Institute of Cancer Research, London, has welcomed the approval of olaparib by the European Medicines Agency for women with ovarian cancer who have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.
Olaparib, a PARP inhibitor, is the first cancer drug to be approved that is directed against an inherited genetic mutation, and its development was underpinned by research carried out by scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR).
A team including the ICR’s Professor Alan Ashworth discovered the BRCA2 gene in 1995. Professor Ashworth and colleagues at the ICR, with funding from Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Cancer Research UK, later collaborated with biotech company KuDOS to demonstrate that PARP inhibitors could be effective against cancers with BRCA mutations. Researchers at the ICR and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust also led early trials of PARP inhibitors.
Professor Alan Ashworth, Professor of Molecular Biology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said:
“The European Medicines Agency’s approval of olaparib is a very significant step in the long journey to bring a completely new type of targeted cancer treatment into the clinic. The ruling marks the first time a cancer drug targeted at an inherited genetic fault has been approved – and is a significant step in expanding the treatment options available for patients with tumours caused by inherited BRCA mutations.
“The development of olaparib – and PARP inhibitors generally – is a great example of how research collaboration can lead to new cancer treatments. Here close interaction between researchers at the ICR, a UK biotech, a pharmaceutical company, NHS hospitals and charitable funding bodies has given people with cancer a completely new treatment type.
“We’re very proud of the work we did at the ICR to underpin the development of olaparib, and grateful for the support of funders in making it possible.”