‘Space Age’ cancer drug shows promise

June 25th, 2009 - 1:35 pm ICT by ANI  

London, June 25 (ANI): A new drug has shown promise in providing protection to individuals who were genetically vulnerable to developing cancers, say British researchers.

People carrying BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations are an increased risk of developing cancer. It weakens the ability of a person’s cells to repair themselves.

While the risk of developing prostate cancer in men doubles from 7pct to more than 15pct, women’s chances of getting ovarian cancer increases from 2pct to 60pct.

Their chances of getting breast cancer also leaps from 10pct, to as much as 85pct.

The new drug called Olaparib - developed by the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in collaboration with The Royal Marsden Hospital and AstraZeneca - has been found to prevent malignant cells from repairing themselves.

Through this study, the researchers say, they have found a novel way of exploiting a fault inherent in BRCA mutation cancer cells to destroy them.

“By giving this drug we have made what has been an advantage to the cell in fact an achilles heel,” Sky News quoted Dr Johann de Bono, of the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) as saying.

“This is really the holy grail of cancer treatment - selectively killing cancer cells and sparing normal cells,” de Bono added.

Traditional cancer treatments, like chemotherapy, kill both healthy and cancerous cells, however, Olaparib leaves healthy cells untouched. (ANI)

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