New drug class could treat range of cancers with faulty BRCA genes

Scientists have identified a new class of targeted cancer drugs that offer the potential to treat patients whose tumours have faulty copies of the BRCA cancer genes.

The drugs, known as POLQ inhibitors, specifically kill cancer cells with mutations in the BRCA genes while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

And crucially, they can kill cancer cells that have become resistant to PARP inhibitors – an existing treatment for patients with BRCA mutations.

Researchers are already planning to test the new drug class in upcoming clinical trials. If the trials are successful, POLQ inhibitors could enter the clinic as a new approach to treating a range of cancers with BRCA mutations, such as breast, ovarian, pancreatic and prostate cancer.

Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and the pharmaceutical company Artios, explored the potential of using POLQ inhibitors in treating cancer cells with defects in the BRCA genes.

Their study, published in Nature Communications, was funded by ArtiosCancer Research UK and Breast Cancer Now.

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