Experimental drugs may tackle uterine cancer -study

* Early studies offer hope for PARP drugs in uterine cancer

* Researchers say drugmakers keen to start human trials

By Kate Kelland

LONDON, Oct 13 (BestGrowthStock) – A new class of experimental
cancer drugs could be a potential alternative to standard
chemotherapy for women with advanced endometrial or uterine
cancer, scientists said on Wednesday.

Researchers from London’s Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)
found that drugs known as PARP inhibitors were able to kill off
endometrial cancer cells in lab dishes and said their findings
should now progress into tests on human patients.

Several large drugmakers, including Abbott (ABT.N: ), Merck
(MRK.N: ), Pfizer (PFE.N: ), Sanofi-Aventis (SASY.PA: ) and
AstraZeneca (AZN.L: ), are developing PARP inhibitors, which work
by blocking DNA repair mechanisms in cancer cells, stalling the
cell cycle and leading to cell death.

“There are a few pharmaceutical companies that are in
discussions with us at the moment with the idea of testing PARP
inhibitors in this context,” said Jorge Reis-Filho, who led the
study on uterine cancer.

AstraZeneca’s experimental PARP drug Olaparib and Sanofi’s
BSI-201 are the furthest ahead in development, and results of
Sanofi’s drug in breast cancer showed this week that it helped
women with an aggressive form of the disease live an average of
almost five months longer. [ID:nLDE6961QQ]

PARP is short for “poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase”, which is
used by cancer cells to repair DNA damage. By blocking the
enzyme, the drug is designed to undermine the ability of cancer
cells to heal themselves.

Reis-Filho’s team, whose research was published in the
journal Science Translational Medicine, found that the deletion
of a gene called PTEN is key to how PARP inhibitors work and
said that around 80 percent of cases of a common type of cancer
of the uterus have this gene mutation.

“There is a clear relationship between PTEN loss and
sensitivity to PARP inhibitors,” said Konstantin Dedes of the
ICR, who also worked on the study.

“PTEN is like a predictive marker for tumours that benefit
from PARP inhibition and given that around 80 percent of these
cancers have PTEN gene mutation … it would be very interesting
to test this finding in clinical trials.”

According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI),
uterine cancer, which usually occurs after menopause, is the
most common type of gynaecologic cancer in the United States.
This year, it is estimated that more than 43,000 women will be
diagnosed with it, and almost 8,000 will die of it.
(Editing by Will Waterman)

Experimental drugs may tackle uterine cancer -study