It is always exciting when you hear about a new cancer drug. Cancer is such a scary disease that hearing of a new cancer drug is comforting, especially as you get older. I’d rather read about a new cancer drug than intimidation by North Korea.
The BBC News has posted an article titled “New cancer drug “shows promise” that reports in preliminary testing the drug Olaparib has been shown to be highly effective against types of cancer caused by BRAC1 and BRAC2 genes which include advanced breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.
Olaparib was given to 19 patients who had inherited forms of the aforementioned cancers. In 12 of the patients who had never responded to past therapies their tumors shrunk or stabilized.
The study was featured in the New England Journal of Medicine and was led by the Institute of Cancer Research.
There is a patient who has now been in remission for two years.
Olaparib is a type of a new class of drug called a PARP inhibitor that targets cancer cells but leaves healthy cells alone.
The research team has been working in concert with a pharmaceutical company called AstraZeneca.
The drug has not been causing near the side effects that chemotherapy causes.
An example of a successful case is 62-year-old Julian Lewis who was treated with olaparib after being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. Within just a month or two key levels of a key chemical marker of cancer went down to a low level.
Dr. Johann de Bono indicated that olaparib should now be used in larger clinical studies.
It has been found that on a DNA level normal cells have a way of repairing damage to their own DNA. There are several “paths of repair” that cells use. Mutant abnormal tumor cells block this path.
A part of a method called “synthetic lethality” has olaparib blocking repair paths to all cells. This greatly damages the cancer cells but the normal cells have alternative repair paths that can be used.
I had a friend who died from cancer in 1980. In fact he ultimately went to Mexico for an alternatively form of treatment. He was in the hospital for over 500 days because he just would not go into remission.
I remember a doctor saying to him then that he had always felt that the actual cure for cancer was a fairly simple procedure that was for whatever reason hard to see. In other words he was suggesting that we couldn’t see the forest for the trees.
The only drawback to the latest discovery of olaparib is that it is very personalized and therefore will probably be extremely expensive.