Thousands of men around the world could soon be given the first genetically targeted medicine for prostate cancer.
Olaparib, which has been proven to extend survival for some men with advanced disease, was approved for use in the US by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) back in June 2020.
Since then, the European Union, Japan and Canada have also approved olaparib for some prostate cancer patients. A decision in the UK is expected in May 2021.
The breakthrough is the culmination of a decade of research involving collaboration between scientific teams around the world and supported by Movember funding.
Paul Villanti, Executive Director of Programs at Movember, said: "We hope this drug will improve the lives of men with prostate cancer in the very near future."
The pill, which is already used on patients with breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancer, is a type of treatment called a PARP inhibitor.
It works by targeting cancer cells with faulty DNA repair genes. It stops the cells repairing and eventually kills them without damaging healthy cells.
It is the first genetically targeted drug of its kind and it is hoped that it will benefit up to a third of men with aggressive prostate cancer.
Paul Villanti says: "This revolutionary approach to treating prostate cancer means that fewer men will needlessly suffer the side effects of treatments that are unlikely to work for their particular disease."
Movember's contribution to the development of olaparib as a medicine for prostate cancer came through Dr Joaquin Mateo’s Clinician Fellowship Training Award in 2014.
Dr Mateo, a medical oncologist and head of the Prostate Cancer Translational Research Group, Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), Barcelona, said:
“I am proud to have had Movember’s support for my PhD studies during the early stages of this project at the ICR and The Royal Marsden in London. A joint grant with Prostate Cancer UK allowed us to deliver the proof-of-concept that eventually led to the approval of these medicines for prostate cancer.
“The approval of PARP inhibitors is a landmark achievement in prostate cancer care. It brings not only a new therapeutic option for some patients, but also confirms that tailoring treatments to genetic profiling can result in more precise care for men with this disease.
“Movember has since supported many investigators worldwide to better understand how prostate cancer genomic profiling can translate into better patient care.”