UK scientists assess ovarian cancer drug for brain tumours

7th November 2017 (Last Updated November 7th, 2017 00:00)

A clinical trial (OPARATIC) funded by Cancer Research UK has evaluated the use of an ovarian cancer drug, olaparib, for the treatment of a type of brain tumour called glioblastoma.

UK scientists assess ovarian cancer drug for brain tumours
Scientists exploit leaks in blood brain barrier for brain tumour treatment. Credit: Cancer Research UK.

A clinical trial (OPARATIC) funded by Cancer Research UK has evaluated the use of an ovarian cancer drug, olaparib, for the treatment of the glioblastoma type of brain tumour.

Olaparib is a PARP inhibitor designed to prevent damaged cancer cells from repairing themselves following chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

The trial investigated the ability of the drug to cross the blood-brain barrier to reach the tumour.

According to the results from 48 patients, olaparib combined with chemotherapy drug temozolomide successfully reached the tumours at the levels high enough for treatment of the disease.

The trial involved analysis of tumour samples that revealed penetration of the drug also to the surrounding areas having smaller amount of cancerous cells, which cannot be removed by surgery.

"While overall survival for cancer is improving, survival for brain tumours is still very low and the blood-brain barrier is a significant pharmacological obstacle."

During the trial, researchers have further identified a method for safe combination of olaparib and temozolomide with intermittent administration of olaparib to reduce side-effects.

Cancer Research UK drug development director Dr Nigel Blackburn said: “While overall survival for cancer is improving, survival for brain tumours is still very low and the blood-brain barrier is a significant pharmacological obstacle.

“Experimental trials like this, which test new ways to reach these hard to treat tumours, are crucially important if we are to see more patients survive their cancer.”

Based on the results from the OPARATIC trial, two separate clinical trials PARADIGM and PARADIGM-2 are being conducted to evaluate the combination with radiotherapy in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma.