A specific type of ovarian cancer may benefit from existing platinum-based chemotherapy and DNA repairing treatments, according to the findings of a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
To conduct this study, researchers analyzed 2,636 patients with ovarian cancer from 15 international studies to determine whether those with a silenced BRCA1 gene had similar outcomes to those with the mutated BRCA1 gene. According to their results, both mutated and silenced BRCA1 genes were found in serious ovarian cancers and occurred at a younger age juxtaposed to patients without a silenced or mutated gene.
Moreover, the investigators observed that patients with the silenced gene exhibited faulty DNA repair more than the patients with the mutated gene. However, researchers found that unlike those with the mutated BRCA1 gene, patients with the silenced gene did not respond any better to platinum chemotherapy or have a better prognosis than those with the normal functioning BRCA1 gene.
“We found that the studies that used a specific methylation PCR test showed the results that we would expect for those with truly silenced BRCA1 gene. This suggests that researchers need to refine and standardize the way they test for silencing of this gene,” said Roshni Kalachand, an RCSI PhD student and the study’s lead author in a press release about the study. “This will enable them to detect ‘true’ cases of patients that have this gene silenced. Only then will we be able to successfully treat this subgroup of ovarian cancer with drugs targeting DNA repair.”
Professor Bryan Hennessy, the study’s senior author and associate professor at RCSI, said of the results: “Ovarian cancer ranks among the top ten diagnosed and top five deadliest cancers in most countries. Unfortunately, approximately 80% of patients present at an advanced stage of the disease.
“Therefore, it is critical that clinicians are provided with as many treatment options as possible which can target this disease, both as a stand-alone therapy and in combination with existing therapies.”