PARP inhibitors are drugs that target tumors with BRCA1/BRCA2 mutated cells and the first PARP inhibitor was approved in 2015 as a targeted therapy for ovarian cancer patients with BRCA1/2 mutations. The drugs are also being explored in clinical trials in metastatic breast cancer for patients with BRCA1/2 mutations. However, not all cancer cells respond to PARP inhibitors alone.
A new study published in Nature Medicine by BCRF investigator Dr. Mien-Chie Hung of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center found that combining PARP inhibitors with inhibitors of another target, called c-MET, further suppressed the growth of breast cancer cells in laboratory models. These results may help to identify which BRCA1/2-mutated cancers will not respond to PARP inhibitors alone and provide the rationale for combination therapy with c-MET and PARP inhibitors in clinical trials in BRCA1/2-mutation breast cancers.
Dr. Hung’s BCRF funded research is focused on developing new therapies for metastatic breast cancer, with an emphasis on cancers that develop in carriers of the BRCA1/2 mutations and also in triple negative breast cancers (TNBC). TNBC and BRCA1/2 cancers do not respond well to existing treatments. This work is only one part of a larger BCRF portfolio developing new therapies ($12 million invested this year) and BCRF work understanding BRCA1/2 cancers ($7 million invested this year).