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Promising Trial

PARP inhibitors finally have some proof, writes Derek Lowe at In the Pipeline. He notes that the drug class has had its ups and downs, as PARP inhibitors developed by various companies haven't always done well in trials — or even always been PARP inhibitors.

But Lowe reports that Tesaro announced yesterday that neraparib, which it licensed from Merck, has shown promising results in ovarian cancer.

According to Forbes' Matthew Herper, Tesaro's 500-person trial separated patients into three groups: those with BRCA mutations, those with homologous recombination deficiencies, and all others without BRCA mutations. They then monitored patients' progression-free survival.

The company reported that patients with BRCA mutations who received the drug had a median progression-free survival of 21 months, while those who didn't get the drug had a median 5.5 months of progression-free survival. In addition, patients with homologous recombination deficiencies who received the drug had a median progression-free survival of 12.9 months, as compared to 3.8 months for controls. Finally, patients without BRCA mutations who received niraparib had a median 9.3 months of progression-free survival, while controls had a median 3.9 months of progression-free survival.

The results for each group were statistically significant, though the difference wasn't as wide for the non-BRCA group, company COO Mary Lynne Hedley tells Herper.

Lowe notes that AstraZeneca's PARP inhibitors olaparib has only been approved for ovarian cancer patients with BRCA mutations. "It's not clear to me why these two should be this different, and this illustrates (once again) the value of so-called 'me-too' compounds," he adds.