Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC Launches Clinical Trial for Patients with Recurrent Ovarian Cancer

Posted:04/8/10

Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC will be the only site in Western Pennsylvania for a clinical trial of ABT-888, a drug previously proven in combination treatments to improve chemotherapy’s effectiveness by lowering cancer cells’ resistance to treatment.

ABT-888 works by targeting the polymerase (PARP) family of enzymes responsible for a wide variety of processes in cancer cells, according to Kristin Zorn, M.D., the principal investigator for the trial at Magee and a gynecologic oncologist with the Magee-Womens Gynecologic Cancer Program of UPMC Cancer Centers. PARP inhibition currently is being studied as a mechanism that may be particularly effective for treating cancers related to BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 mutations, which can be inherited in families with strong histories of breast, ovarian, fallopian tube and peritoneal cancers.

“Cancer cells have increased levels of PARP, which we believe causes resistance to chemotherapies and other cancer treatments,” said Dr. Zorn. “ABT-888 appears to inhibit PARP, making cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy and to cell death.”

Ovarian cancer is the second most common and most lethal of gynecologic cancers, and the fifth most frequent cause of cancer death in women. About 21,550 women were diagnosed last year with the disease, and 15,000 died from it. Ovarian cancer has few symptoms in its early stages, and, because of this, patients often are diagnosed after the disease has started to spread.

The study is open to patients with recurrent ovarian, fallopian tube or peritoneal cancers who have received previous chemotherapy treatments. Patients who enroll in this clinical trial will either receive ABT-888 in conjunction with chemotherapy or chemotherapy alone. If at any time a patient’s disease progresses on the chemotherapy alone arm, she can then move to the ABT-888 arm of the study. For more information, contact Vicki Gilchrist, R.N., at (412) 641-4365.

The study is sponsored by Abbott Laboratories.

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