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Author Topic: NHS approves earlier use of 'game-changing' ovarian cancer drug  (Read 148 times)
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29 July 2019 - by Dr Nicoletta Charolidi
Women in England with advanced ovarian cancer will now have access to a drug that could help halt the progression of their disease much earlier in their course of treatment.
Olaparib is a targeted cancer drug that has been shown to delay signs of relapse and reduce the chance of death in women who have BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer (see BioNews 973). Previously, olaparib was only available to patients who had had surgery or been treated with three different chemotherapy drugs. The latest decision means patients will now be offered the drug after one round of chemotherapy.
Chief executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, Professor Paul Workman, said: 'It's fantastic news that olaparib will now be available on the NHS for women who have advanced ovarian cancer and inherited BRCA mutations much earlier in the course of treatment when they are most likely to benefit.'
Rose Gray, Cancer Research UK's policy manager also welcomed the decision, saying that it's 'fantastic news' and 'will offer new hope' to those affected by ovarian cancer. 
The recommendation came following an ongoing phase-three clinical trial, showing that olaparib can delay ovarian cancers and reduce the risk of disease progression and death by 70 percent, when compared to a placebo drug. Sixty percent of patients who took olaparib showed no progression of their cancer after three years, in comparison to 27 percent of patients who received the placebo treatment.
Dr Susana Banerjee, a consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden in London and Institute of Cancer Research, who co-led the trial, described the drug as a ‘practice-changing treatment'. And added that ‘treatment with olaparib heralds a new era for women with ovarian cancer - this is the first time we have seen such dramatic improvements in progression-free survival. This means more women will have a longer time before relapse, time of chemotherapy and the possibility of increased survival.'
Olaparib is made by AstraZeneca and belongs to the class of PARP (poly-ADP ribose polymerase) inhibitor drugs, so called because they block the protein PARP from repairing damaged DNA in cancer cells causing them to die. The extension of olaparib treatment will be paid for through the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), and the potential of the drug to extend patients' lives will continue to be assessed.
'Because it's been recommended for the CDF, patients will be able to access the drug while more evidence is gathered on its longer-term benefits,' said Gray.
Wales and Northern Ireland will most likely adopt the same practice. Scotland is also considering approving the drug.
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One in six women conceive naturally after unsuccessful IVF
29 July 2019 - by Jakki Magowan
The chances of having a treatment-independent live birth following IVF or ICSI are favourable, say researchers at the University of Aberdeen.
New study results found that one in six (17 percent) of patients experiencing unsuccessful cycles of IVF went on to have a baby without help, within five years.
'IVF is not something that couples take on lightly,' said lead researcher Dr David McLernon. 'It can be a physically and emotionally demanding process even if treatment is successful. When it is unsuccessful, understandably couples can be left distraught ... This study gives couples a clearer idea of their chances of conceiving naturally, even after IVF has been unsuccessful.'
Conception rates were recorded by Dr McLernon and his team at an IVF unit in Aberdeen. The study included 2,133 women who had received treatments between 1998 and 2011 who were followed-up between one and 15 years later.
1,060 of these women achieved a live birth following successful IVF or ICSI and 15 percent went on to have another live birth, independent of treatment within five years. The remaining 1,073 whose treatment resulted in no pregnancy or pregnancy loss went on to have a live birth (17 percent).
According to their report, among unsuccessfully treated women, the chance of post-IVF live birth was reduced in those with tubal factor infertility. The researchers also acknowledge that data was unavailable on the women's use of contraception or active attempts to get pregnant which could influence treatment-independent live birth rates.
However, the study, funded by the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office and published in Human Reproduction is the largest of its kind. A small number of other studies have investigated treatment-independent conception following IVF, but the majority were based on surveys with poor response rates and limited sample sizes.
'This study looked at data from more than 2,000 women which we think makes it one of the most robust studies of its type,' said McLernon. 'Hopefully with this information patients will be able to make an informed choice about their next moves after treatment.'
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