New Class of Drugs Could Revolutionize Cancer Treatment

PARP inhibitors show potential to transform understanding of cancer
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2009 9:12 AM CDT
New research on PARP inhibitors is being hailed as the biggest cancer breakthrough in a decade.   (Shutter Stock)
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(Newser) – A new class of drugs in development represents the biggest cancer breakthrough in a decade, Robert Bazell writes at NBC. In a study causing much excitement in the medical world, breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer patients treated with Olaparib, one of a group of drugs known as PARP inhibitors, had their tumors shrink or vanish, often without the punishing side effects caused by other cancer treatments.

The study was small, Bazell writes, but it built on nearly 20 years of research into PARP inhibitors, which make cancer cells unable to repair themselves. The drugs look set to save thousands of life in the short term, Bazell writes, and, as more trials proceed, could lead to "a transformational approach to understanding and treating several forms of the disease" in the long term.