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Lynparza (also known as olaparib) is a drug approved by the FDA to treat ovarian, fallopian tube, and primary peritoneal cancer in women who carry mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2, and who have received three or more previous lines of chemotherapy. Lynparza has also been approved in Europe but for a different indication—for maintenance therapy for recurrent ovarian cancer in women with BRCA mutations following a good response to platinum chemotherapy.
In a phase II clinical trial, lynparza maintenance therapy given to women after they completed platinum chemotherapy improved progression-free survival (the length of time without the disease getting worse). However, it did not improve overall survival. Median progression-free survival was significantly longer for patients with a BRCA mutation in the lynparza group compared to the placebo group (11.2 months versus 4.3 months). A similar trend was observed for patients without a BRCA mutation, but the time to progression was not as long (7.4 months versus 5.5 months). Despite these results, lynparza has not been approved for maintenance chemotherapy in the United States.
Research is now also looking at lynparza’s effectiveness when combined with a second drug called cediranib, which works, in part, by stopping blood vessel growth around tumors, helping to limit the blood supply tumors need to thrive. A 2014 study showed that women with recurrent advanced ovarian cancer who received a combination of lynparza and cediranib had a median progression-free survival time of 17.7 months compared to 9 months for patients who only received lynparza alone, but toxicity was higher for the two-drug combination. Because of these results, a large phase III study is now open and recruiting patients.