New ovarian cancer drug niraparib (Zejula ®), which was licensed for use in the UK by the European Medicines Agency last month, is part of a new class of ovarian cancer drugs called PARP inhibitors.
Niraparib is yet to be approved for availability on the NHS; a decision is expected in the new year by NICE. It can be used to treat women who have platinum-sensitive recurrent ovarian cancer. This group of drugs, PARP inhibitors, slows the progress of ovarian cancer by stopping DNA in cancer cells from repairing, and so promoting cell death. Previously, PARP inhibitors could only be used to treat women who have a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, and it is significant that niraparib can be used to treat women whether they have a mutation in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene or not.
Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “We are starting to see extremely promising results from new PARP inhibitors rucaparib and niraparib, alongside further results for existing PARP inhibitor, olaparib, which is already available for some women with ovarian cancer through NICE. These new treatments mean we are beginning to see a step change in the treatment options for women with ovarian cancer. We must now hope that both rucaparib and niraparib are approved for funding on the NHS so that they can be made available at the earliest opportunity to women with ovarian cancer.
“Treatment options at any stage of ovarian cancer are limited, and to have niraparib, an ovarian cancer drug that can be used regardless of whether a woman carries a BRCA mutation, is very encouraging. Seeing these new treatments approved underlines the vital importance of funding new research, in particular to discover more effective treatments for women whose cancer has become resistant to standard chemotherapy.”
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Find out more
- Contact our Support Line if you are affected by ovarian cancer and have questions about treatment and support - call 020 7923 5475 or fill our our contact form to request a call back
- Read more about hereditary ovarian cancer and mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes
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