Drug Offers Hope for Genetic Breast Cancer Sufferers

First-of-its-kind drug slows, stops tumor growth
By Jess Kilby,  Newser User
Posted Jun 1, 2009 8:31 AM CDT
A woman who had a mastectomy to remove a tumor is fitted for prosthetic breast form at the FUNDESO organization for breast cancer survivors in San Jose, Costa Rica, last month.   (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)
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(Newser) – A first-of-its-kind drug has been developed to fight genetic breast cancer, with an initial round of human trials showing “very promising” results, reports the Times of London. The drug Olaparib works by blocking a protein that makes cancer cells containing the genetic default unable to repair themselves. The drug shrank tumors or stopped their growth in 40% of cases studied.

“We are hopeful that olaparib could provide a targeted treatment for women with BRCA-related breast cancer,” said the lead researcher. He noted that the drug is less invasive than chemotherapy because it targets just the cancerous cells. Women with the mutation that leads to genetic breast cancer have an 80% chance of developing the disease in their lifetime, and many have their breasts removed as a preventative measure.