The Cleveland Clinic, located in Cleveland, Ohio, recently announced the top 10 medical innovations for 2021. Among them is the discovery of the effectiveness of using PARP inhibitors in the treatment of prostate cancer.

With a chance of one in nine diagnoses, prostate cancer is a constant concern for men. Researchers are permanently looking for new options for therapy-resistant prostate cancer, including metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CPRCm), which is considered incurable. Although progress has been made in the past decade, the disease remains the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States.

Although known for its success in female cancers, two PARP inhibitors have been shown to slow the progression of prostate cancer in men with refractory cancer and mutations in the DNA repair pathway. Both were approved for prostate cancer in May 2020 by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the federal agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

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Poli ADP-ribose polymerase, or PARP inhibitors (pharmacological inhibitors for the treatment of cancer) block proteins called PARP, which help repair damaged tumor DNA in people with mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. In clinical trials, these therapies have shown improvements, such as a 66% reduced risk of disease progression or death.

While chemotherapy damages DNA as a way to injure and kill rapidly dividing cancer cells, BRCA genes have a built-in backup plan to repair cancer DNA. PARP proteins correct this damage by allowing cancer to grow. The PARP inhibitor prevents repair, effectively blocking cell growth.

While prostate cancer continues to affect nearly 200,000 men a year in the United States, the emergence of PARP inhibitors for this indication is a huge step forward in treating the disease.

Source: Cleveland Clinic News room