New Targeted Agents in Gynecologic Cancers: Synthetic Lethality, Homologous Recombination Deficiency, and PARP Inhibitors

Gynecologic Cancers (RJ Morgan, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Gynecologic Cancers

Opinion statement

Inhibitors of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) have emerged as a new class of anti-cancer drugs, specifically for malignancies bearing aberrations of the homologous recombination pathway, like those with mutations in the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes. Olaparib, a potent PARP1 and PARP2 inhibitor, has been shown to significantly increase progression-free survival (PFS) in women with recurrent ovarian cancer related to a germline BRCA mutation and is currently approved fourth-line treatment in these patients. PARP inhibitors (PARPi) target the genetic phenomenon known as synthetic lethality to exploit faulty DNA repair mechanisms. While ovarian cancer is enriched with a population of tumors with known homologous recombination defects, investigations are underway to help identify pathways in other gynecologic cancers that may demonstrate susceptibility to PARPi through synthetically lethal mechanisms. The ARIEL2 trial prospectively determined a predictive assay to identify patients with HRD. The future of cancer therapeutics will likely incorporate these HRD assays to determine the best treatment plan for patients. While the role of PARPi is less clear in non-ovarian gynecologic cancers, the discovery of a predictive assay for HRD may open the door for clinical trials in these other gynecologic cancers enriched with patients with HRD. Identification of patients with tumors deficient in homologous repair or have HRD-like behavior moves cancer treatment towards individualized therapies in order to maximize treatment effect and quality of life for women living with gynecologic cancers.


Gynecologic cancer Ovarian cancer Homologous recombination Synthetic lethality Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase PARP inhibition BRCA mutation BRCA-ness Homologous recombination assay 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity of California Irvine Medical CenterOrangeUSA

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