Michael Birrer, MD, PhD
The explosion of PARP inhibitors in ovarian cancer has provided new and exciting options for the treatment of patients, explains Michael Birrer, MD, PhD.
, Birrer, director, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center, discussed the effect that PARP inhibitors have had on the treatment of ovarian cancer, and the potential for combinations with these agents.
OncLive: Can you discuss the impact that PARP inhibitors have had on the field?
: This is a new class of drugs, which most of us consider to be targeted therapy. It is perhaps not as targeted as EGFR inhibitors, but it is close. These are agents that inhibit the PARP protein and are fairly specific. The PARP protein is important because it is involved in single-stranded DNA repair. If you inhibit the ability of a cell to repair single-strand breaks, they become double-strand breaks, and double-strand breaks are lethal unless repaired. Double-strand breaks are repaired by BRCA1/2
. This is a great example of what is called synthetic lethality; it is very specific for cells that have homologous recombination deficiency (HRD), such as ovarian cancer, and it should not affect many other cells in the body. It is a very selective therapeutic approach.
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