AN OPTIMISED genetic test for ovarian cancer has been developed by researchers. The test aids in accurately identifying patients with ovarian cancer who benefit from the treatment of PARP inhibitors, which can improve disease prognosis significantly.
A study carried out by the University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, Finland, allowed the creation of a genetic test. This has been optimised for the Finnish population and is used to test all patients in Finland who have ovarian cancer. The test, which was developed with the aid of machine learning, can reliably identify patients with certain gene defects, which are typical of ovarian cancer, in their tumours. It has been optimised for the Finnish population, and is used to test all patients in Finland who have ovarian cancer.
Around half of ovarian cancers contain a deficiency in a specific DNA-repair pathway, and are therefore unable to repair breaks in the DNA double-strand with accuracy, causing accumulations of DNA lesions. These lesions, which are caused by an inadequacy in the homologous recombination DNA repair pathway, are sensitive to the use of PARP inhibitors, and patients with these tumour types experience strong responses to the treatment.
The use of PARP inhibitors as an oncological treatment is associated with the potential for severe side effects; therefore, it is crucial to identify the patients who benefit from them. In recent years, PARP inhibitors have proven effective as a maintenance treatment for ovarian cancer following surgery and in newly-diagnosed ovarian cancer as a cytostatic therapy. It can add disease-free years to the life of a patient, and also extends overall survival time. The study concluded that PARP inhibitor therapy can be given to up to half of all patients with ovarian cancer.
Anniina Färkkilä, Helsinki University Hospital, highlighted the benefits for both patients and healthcare provisions, making it possible to avoid “unnecessary treatment and the adverse effects associated with the drug. At the same time, as much as millions of euros of public funds can be saved.” Färkkilä went on: “Some patients with advanced ovarian cancer could even be considered cured in the future thanks to PARP inhibitors.”