Purpose of review: Management of the epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) remains a therapeutic challenge, with continued poor overall survival (OS). Given low chemotherapy response rates for recurrent disease and short survival times, new treatment options with improved therapeutic indices for targeting cancer's vulnerability are urgently needed in this patient population.
Recent findings: In this review, we summarize the recent development and clinical evaluations of inhibitors of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) as novel targeting agents for EOC. PARP inhibitors exploit synthetic lethality to target DNA repair defects in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.In recent clinical trials, EOC patients with BRCA mutations exhibited favorable responses to the PARP inhibitor olaparib compared with patients without BRCA mutations. Additionally, olaparib has been reported to augment the effects of cisplatin and carboplatin on recurrence-free survival and OS in mice bearing BRCA1/2-deficient tumors.Given that hereditary EOC with deleterious BRCA1/2 mutations and BRCAness sporadic EOC are profoundly susceptible to synthetic lethality with PARP inhibition, it is imperative to identify a population of EOC patients that is likely to respond to PARP inhibitors. Recent studies have identified the gene expression profiles of DNA repair defects and BRCAness that predict clinical outcomes and response to platinum-based chemotherapy in EOC patients.
Summary: Ovarian cancer continues to carry the highest mortality among gynecologic cancers in the western world. Clinical development of PARP inhibitors that target DNA repair defects in cancer is a novel and imperative stride in individualized identification of molecular characteristics in management of ovarian cancer.