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06 Feb 2023 - 09 Feb 2023

Genetic Test Improves Ovarian Cancer Treatment

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 12 Jan 2023
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Image: The new genetic test helps to identify ovarian cancer patients who benefit from a new drug (Photo courtesy of Helsinki University Hospital)
Image: The new genetic test helps to identify ovarian cancer patients who benefit from a new drug (Photo courtesy of Helsinki University Hospital)

Ovarian cancer has the worst prognosis among all gynecological cancers due to delay in diagnosis as its symptoms are often minor and unclear. Of late, the new PARP inhibitors as maintenance treatment for ovarian cancer after surgery and cytostatic therapy in newly-diagnosed ovarian cancer have demonstrated excellent results. However, the therapy can also cause serious side-effects, making it vital to target it to only those patients who stand to benefit the most from the treatment. Now, a new genetic test can identify ovarian cancer patients who can benefit from PARP inhibitors.

The genetic test developed at the University of Helsinki (Helsinki, Finland) and Helsinki University Hospital (Helsinki, Finland) using machine learning can identify patients whose tumors carry certain gene defects that are typical of ovarian cancer. The lesions are caused by a deficiency in the homologous recombination DNA repair pathway (HRD). These tumor types are the ones that are sensitive to PARP inhibitors. Their study has shown that each cancer type is associated with different characteristics of the genetic lesions related to HRD. In fact, it was important to develop a test optimized for ovarian cancer in order to advance the precision of therapies for the cancer type.

“The genetic test helps to identify patients who do not benefit from the drug, thus avoiding unnecessary treatment and the adverse effects associated with the drug,” said Specialist Anniina Färkkilä from HUS Helsinki University Hospital. “This therapy can now be administered to as many as half of the patients with ovarian cancer.”

“Clinical trials have shown that patients with HRD tumors have a strong response to PARP inhibitors, while the response of other patients is poor,” added Doctoral Researcher Fernando Perez Villatoro from the University of Helsinki. “The gene test and the algorithms are now freely available, and can be used in clinical care and trials to guide the treatment of ovarian cancer.”

Related Links:
University of Helsinki 
Helsinki University Hospital 

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