April 21, 2015 / 1:35 PM / 4 years ago

AstraZeneca drug Lynparza shows promise in prostate cancer trial

A sign is seen at an AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield, central England May 19, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble

LONDON (Reuters) - AstraZeneca’s recently approved ovarian cancer drug Lynparza, or olaparib, can also help men with prostate cancer, according to new clinical trial results on Tuesday.

The news is the latest boost to the British company’s cancer drug pipeline, which formed a central plank of its defense against a $118 billion takeover attempt by Pfizer last year.

AstraZeneca has flagged olaparib as a potential $2-billion-a-year seller, based on ongoing Phase III studies in ovarian, breast, gastric and pancreatic cancers. The latest Phase II prostate findings would represent further upside.

Olaparib works by blocking an enzyme involved in cell repair and is approved for women with ovarian cancer and hereditary BRCA gene mutations. The new research suggests it could also benefit men with genomic faults within their prostate tumors.

“This opens up the exciting possibility of delivering precise treatment for advanced prostate cancer, guided by genomic testing and based on the particular molecular characteristics of patients’ tumors,” said chief investigator Johann de Bono of Britain’s Institute of Cancer Research.

De Bono presented data to the American Association of Cancer Research conference showing that 16 out of 49 men with treatment-resistant, advanced prostate cancer responded to olaparib. Among the responders, 14 of the men had detectable DNA repair mutations.

On the back of the results, the researchers plan to start a second part of the trial in which only men with detectable DNA repair mutations will receive olaparib, in the expectation that the response rate in this group will be much higher.

Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Alison Williams

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