NHS offers first drug targeting advanced breast cancers driven by BRCA gene mutations – Cancer Research UK

Since our researchers
helped discover BRCA genes in the 1990s, doctors have been able to use treatments like talazoparib to target common features of cancers caused by BRCA mutations. The first of these “PARP inhibitor” drugs, olaparib, was also developed by a team of our scientists.  

Drugs like olaparib are already available for early-stage breast cancers. NICE’s decision on talazoparib means these breakthroughs can now also help people with more advanced disease. 

A targeted drug for advanced breast cancers 

Talazoparib is recommended for advanced breast cancers with cells that don’t have receptors for a protein called HER2, which can be effectively targeted by other drugs. HER2 negative breast cancers, including triple negative breast cancers, don’t have as many treatment options. 

Advanced breast cancers have grown or spread to the point that they cannot be cured, so the aim of treatment is to help people live longer with a good quality of life. This is done differently for different HER2 negative cancers, but treatments often involve giving chemotherapy directly into people’s veins.  

Patient experts told the NICE committee that this can be difficult and tiring. They also explained that people receiving chemotherapy need to spend lots of time in hospital, which makes it harder for them to lead normal lives. 

By contrast, people who have advanced HER2 negative breast cancers and BRCA mutations can take talazoparib at home in the form of a daily pill.  

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