Ovarian cancer drug olaparib has the potential to treat glioblastoma

Friday 10 November 2017

Researchers at Glasgow University have discovered that ovarian cancer drug, olaparib, has the potential to treat patients with glioblastomas

Glioblastoma, a highly lethal form of brain cancer, affects over 2,500 individuals across the UK, annually. Despite patients undergoing treatments which include surgical removal of the tumour, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, there is a high rate of recurrence for this type of tumour.

A key reason of glioblastoma recurrence can be attributed to the fact that drugs targeted for brain cancer fail to reach the tumour in adequate quantities. Thus, the successful delivery of drugs is an important step in treating glioblastoma.

Researchers at Glasgow University, led by Professor Anthony Chalmers, have discovered that olaparib, a drug aimed at treating ovarian cancer, has the ability to successfully cross the blood brain barrier.

The researchers presented their results at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference that took place in Liverpool on 5-8 November.

The clinical trial, funded by Cancer Research UK, recruited 48 patients diagnosed with recurrent glioblastoma who were given olaparib in combination with temozolomide (a chemotherapy drug).

Upon analysing the tumour samples from these patients, the researchers found that olaparib penetrates the core of the tumour, as well as surrounding areas that contain a smaller number of cancerous cells.

“By showing that this drug reaches brain tumours, we are in a much stronger position to use it to make current treatments more effective," says Professor Chalmers.

Following on from these positive results, The Brain Tumour Charity is co-funding Professor Chalmers to conduct two parallel Phase I studies that will test this combination treatment and determine the recommended dose and schedule for Phase II testing.

Additionally, using genomic and molecular biomarkers with the goal being to predict which patients are likely to benefit from olaparib treatment.

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