Experimental breast cancer drug to be trialled in lung cancer patients

Posted by pt91 at Mar 12, 2014 12:37 PM |
University of Leicester researcher to lead new study

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 11 March 2014

A CLINICAL trial using an experimental drug originally designed to treat breast cancer launches for patients with advanced lung cancer today (Tuesday).

The drug, called olaparib – a type of treatment called a PARP inhibitor – will be given after chemotherapy to patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) to see if it delays the growth of their tumour.

The phase II trial will recruit over 100 people with advanced non-small cell lung cancer at 25 hospitals around the UK. It is funded by Cancer Research UK and AstraZeneca through a National Cancer Research Network initiative and is being co-ordinated by Cancer Research UK’s Wales Cancer Trials Unit at Cardiff University and Velindre NHS Trust in Cardiff.

On the trial, patients will first have chemotherapy and those who respond will then be given either olaparib or a placebo. They will be closely monitored to see how long the drug prevents their tumour from growing.

Around half of NSCLCs have faults in one of the ways they repair DNA damage.  Research has shown that adding a PARP inhibitor makes it even harder for the cancer to repair this damage – ultimately killing the lung cancer cells by targeting their key weakness. Olaparib is also being tested in phase III trials for ovarian and stomach cancers.

Professor Dean Fennell, the chief investigator based at the University of Leicester, said: “We urgently need better treatments for patients with lung cancer – just 30 per cent of them survive for a year after being diagnosed. We hope that using this drug that was originally developed for breast cancer will slow the progression of lung cancer, improving the quality of life for our patients.”

Around 42,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year in the UK and it is the most common cause of cancer death.

Kate Law, director of clinical research at Cancer Research UK, said: “We’re increasingly seeing that drugs originally designed for one type of cancer are proving to be effective for many other types. It’s through research that we’ve seen how this PARP inhibitor could be effective in other cancers that have faults in their DNA repair mechanisms. We’re now taking this knowledge from the lab to see if and how it can help cancer patients.”


For media enquiries contact Simon Shears in the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8054.

Notes to editor:

* Find out more about the trial: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/trials/a-trial-looking-olaparib-non-small-cell-lung-cancer-pin

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities.  Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University Chancellor Professor Sir Martin Evans.  Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise encompasses: the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff's four flagship Research Institutes are offering radical new approaches to cancer stem cells, catalysis, neurosciences and mental health and sustainable places.

The University of Leicester is a leading UK University committed to international excellence through the creation of world changing research and high quality, inspirational teaching. Leicester is the most socially inclusive of Britain's top-20 leading universities. The University of Leicester is The Times/Sunday Times 2014 University of the Year Runner-Up and the THE University of the Year 2008-9.  Leicester is a three-time winner of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education  and is the only University to win seven consecutive awards from the Times Higher. Leicester is ranked 13th out of 119 institutions by The Guardian University Guide; 14th out of 121 institutions by The Times/Sunday Times and the University is ranked among the top two-per cent in the world by the QS World University Rankings,  Taiwan World University Rankings and THE World University Rankings.


About Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research
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