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Homologous recombination deficiency and ovarian cancer

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Yvette DrewORCiD


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The discovery that PARP inhibitors block an essential pathway of DNA repair in cells harbouring a BRCA mutation has opened up a new therapeutic avenue for high-grade ovarian cancers. BRCA1 and BRCA2 proteins are essential for high-fidelity repair of double-strand breaks of DNA through the homologous recombination repair (HRR) pathway. Deficiency in HRR (HRD) is a target for PARP inhibitors. The first PARP inhibitor, olaparib, has now been licensed for BRCA-mutated ovarian cancers. While mutated BRCA genes are individually most commonly associated with HRD other essential HRR proteins may be mutated or functionally deficient potentially widening the therapeutic opportunities for PARP inhibitors. HRD is the first phenotypically defined predictive marker for therapy with PARP inhibitors in ovarian cancer. Several different PARP inhibitors are being trialled in ovarian cancer and this class of drugs has been shown to be a new selective therapy for high-grade ovarian cancer. Around 20% of high-grade serous ovarian cancers harbour germline or somatic BRCA mutations and testing for BRCA mutations should be incorporated into routine clinical practice. The expanded use of PARP inhibitors in HRD deficient (non-BRCA mutant) tumours using a signature of HRD in clinical practice requires validation. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ledermann JA, Drew Y, Kristeleit RS

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Cancer

Year: 2016

Volume: 60

Pages: 49-58

Print publication date: 01/06/2016

Online publication date: 09/04/2016

Acceptance date: 07/03/2016

ISSN (print): 0959-8049

ISSN (electronic): 1879-0852



DOI: 10.1016/j.ejca.2016.03.005