Health Discoveries in Colorectal Cancers

Drugs used for breast cancer may help colorectal cancer

April 29, 2011
PARP inhibitors, which are drugs that have helped patients with breast and ovarian cancer, may have a similar benefit for those with colorectal cancer, according to a study at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In laboratory testing, researchers found the drugs were effective against mutations in the MRE11 gene, which inhabits most colorectal cancer tumors in people with a genetically unstable form of the disease called microsatellite instability. Colorectal cancer includes colon and rectal cancers.

"This is a potential broader application for PARP inhibitors, beyond breast and ovarian cancer. This is a class of drug that's already shown safety in early clinical trials and now might benefit some colorectal cancer patients as well," said Dr. Eduardo Vilar-Sanchez, a hematology/oncology fellow at the university's medical school.

The study, published in the journal Cancer Research, will move into a Phase I clinical trial for colorectal cancer and other cancers - including prostate and endometrial cancer - in people whose tumors have this genetic mutation.

One of the current clinical trials on colon cancer and rectal cancer within the North Shore-LIJ Health System is examining the effects of chemotherapy with various drug combinations. Patients with either colon or rectal cancer are included in the study.
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