Pioneering new therapy uncovered by scientists from The University of Sheffield is now being used to treat breast cancer patients.
- New therapy discovered at University of Sheffield has become the first treatment approved for secondary breast cancer patients with BRCA gene
- US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded the use of Lynparza (olaparib) to certain breast cancer patients.
With more than 50,000 cases diagnosed in the UK each year and 1.7 million worldwide, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. Approximately 20-25 per cent of patients with hereditary breast cancers and 5-10 per cent of patients with any type of breast cancer have a BRCA mutation.
BRCA genes repair damaged DNA and normally prevent tumour development. However, mutations of these genes may lead to certain cancers, including breast cancers.
It is hoped that the use of the drug in breast cancer patients will now also be approved by the European Medicines Agency so that patients throughout Europe can benefit from its life-extending properties.
In 2005, Professor Thomas Helleday and his team of researchers at the University of Sheffield demonstrated how PARP inhibitors could be used as a tailored treatment for patients with BRCA2 mutations, which are seen in both hereditary ovarian and breast cancer.
The discovery was patent protected and licensed to pharmaceutical company Astra-Zeneca who continued the development process and undertook successful clinical trials.
Professor Helleday said: “This is fantastic news for breast cancer patients. I am delighted that after all the hard work carried out since 2005 when we made the original discovery, patients are now benefitting from this new therapy.
“This could not have been achieved without the support of Yorkshire Cancer Research and the University of Sheffield. It is a fantastic example of academic institutions and charities collaborating to fund pioneering research.”