PARP Inhibitors in Reproductive System Cancers: Current Use and Developments.

The repair of DNA damage is a critical cellular process governed by multiple biochemical pathways that are often found to be defective in cancer cells. The poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) family of proteins controls response to single-strand DNA breaks by detecting these damaged sites and recruiting the proper factors for repair. Blocking this pathway forces cells to utilize complementary mechanisms to repair DNA damage. While PARP inhibition may not, in itself, be sufficient to cause tumor cell death, inhibition of DNA repair with PARP inhibitors is an effective cytotoxic strategy when it is used in patients who carry other defective DNA-repair mechanisms, such as mutations in the genes BRCA 1 and 2. This discovery has supported the development of PARP inhibitors (PARPi), agents that have proven effective against various types of tumors that carry BRCA mutations. With the application of next-generation sequencing of tumors, there is increased interest in looking beyond BRCA mutations to identify genetic and epigenetic aberrations that might lead to similar defects in DNA repair, conferring susceptibility to PARP inhibition. Identification of these genetic lesions and the development of screening assays for their detection may allow for the selection of patients most likely to respond to this class of anticancer agents. This article provides an overview of clinical trial results obtained with PARPi and describes the companion diagnostic assays being established for patient selection. In addition, we review known mechanisms for resistance to PARPi and potential strategies for combining these agents with other types of therapy.

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