Hope in fight against inherited cancer

The first of a new class of drugs for cancer is showing promise in patients with inherited forms of the disease, researchers report.

Called olaparib, the new drug comes in pill form and targets cancer cells caused by the faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, which affects around 1,500 of the nearly 46,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year.

Women who inherit one of the abnormal genes have about a 60 per cent risk of developing breast cancer. They also sharply increase the risk of ovarian cancer, and of other cancers including cervical, uterine and bowel cancer. Although only a small group of patients are affected by the BRCA genes, the drugs have been shown in the laboratory to have potential benefits for a wider range of cancer types that share similar characteristics.

Results from two early stage studies published in The Lancet show that olaparib significantly reduced the size of tumours in over 40 per cent of women with advanced breast cancer given the highest dose, and over 33 per cent of those with advanced ovarian cancer. In both cases tumours were prevented from progressing for an average of six months.

Andrew Tutt, director of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Unit at King's College London, who led the breast cancer study, said: "It was remarkable to see that olaparib benefited women with advanced breast and ovarian cancer who had already been treated with several different chemotherapy drugs. However, this drug is at an early stage of development, and further clinical trials will be required."

In a separate study, researchers have found that men who carry a faulty copy of the BRCA2 gene have a one in 15 chance of developing breast cancer by the time they are 70. Breast cancer is rare in men, with about 300 cases in Britain each year compared with more than 45,000 among women. But the lifetime risk among men with a faulty BRCA2 gene is 8.4 per cent by the age of 80, the researchers say in the Journal of Medical Genetics.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

    £18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

    Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific