Astrazeneca’s Precision Medicine Strategy: Ray of Hope for Ovarian Cancer Treatment


The promising results of Astrazeneca’s drug Lynparza (olaparib) to treat ovarian cancer were presented in the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) congress in Chicago.

astrazeneca and sun pharma collaboration for anti-diabetic drugsThe secondary endpoint of the trial of study 19 showed that olaparib maintenance therapy followed by platinum-based chemotherapy increased the overall survival rate of patients with ovarian cancer. This result is in line with the primary end point of the trial were olaparib was found to be more beneficial in progression-free survival or PFS compared to placebo.

Olaparib chemical structure

Figure 1. Chemical structure of olaparib.

These results are based on 77% data maturity conducted after total follow-up for more than five years followed by an additional three years of follow-up. Two interim analyses with the overall trial population for overall survival from Study 19 have previously been conducted, at 38% data maturity (HR 0·94, 95% CI 0·63-1·39, p=0·75) and 58% data maturity (HR 0·88, 95% CI 0·64-1·21, p=0·44).

olaparib astrazeneca

Figure 2. Packshot of Lynparza (Photo credit: Pharmazeutische Zeitung Online)

In the overall population 27% reduction in risk of death compared to placebo was observed. In patients with BRCA1/2 mutations the reduction in death risk was 38% compared to the placebo treatment. However, nominal p-values obtained in this third interim analysis did not meet the criterion for statistical significance hence; the treatment effect observed for overall survival is expected to be descriptive alone.

Lynparza follows a novel strategy of treatment known as DDR, or DNA Damage Repair (DDR). It targets the pathways and cellular systems required for repairing damaged DNA within tumors thereby; hindering their growth.

Astrazeneca’s drug Lynparza

Figure 3. Molecular mechanism of olaparib (LYNPARZA , AstraZeneca).

Mene Pangalos, the executive vice president of innovative medicines and early development at AstraZeneca, announced at the conference, “With Lynparza we are seeing it benefiting patients for five, or six years, not just one or two years. Immuno-oncology is getting a lot of attention and press, but everyone, here at Asco, is talking about combination therapies now,” he said “This approach, that cancer will be treated using combination therapy, is very important in laying foundations for our strategy, and for our DDR and immuno-oncology pipeline. Immuno-oncology in combination with DDR will transform cancer.”

Potentially, the drug is moving towards “double digit percentages,” with 13pc to potentially 20pc of women receiving the treatment surviving for at least four years.

DDR-targeted therapies such as Lynparza, when used in combination with immune-oncology drugs is bound to open a completely new strategy to fight off cancer.

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