Worldwide Cancer Research Menu

Olaparib approved for use in Scotland

This week the drug olaparib (also known as Lynparza) was approved for use in Scotland for women with ovarian cancer by the Scottish Medicine’s Consortium. Scottish charity Worldwide Cancer Research funded work which kick-started the development of this drug over 20 years ago.

Trials have shown the drug, can allow patients, who are often young women, with advanced ovarian cancer to live for an average of 7 months longer compared to standard treatments. Olaparib has already been approved for use in the USA and in Europe. It was also approved last year by NICE for use in England.

The journey started in in 1995 Worldwide Cancer Research (which was known as AICR at the time), based in St Andrews, Fife gave funding to Professor Steve Jackson at the University of Cambridge for a series of projects studying DNA repair. He used findings from these projects, along with others, to set up a company called KuDOS Pharmaceuticals Ltd.  KuDOS went on to develop olaparib, a drug targeting DNA repair. KuDOS was taken over by AstraZeneca in 2005, at which point AstraZeneca took over testing of the drug.

Later in the mid 2000’s the charity then funded Professor Alan Clarke, who’s work supported the case for using olaparib in cancers with BRCA mutations and helped olaparib on its way to clinical trials in patients.

Dr Lara Bennett, Science Communications Manager for Worldwide Cancer Research, commented: "As a charity based in Scotland, we’re proud to say that people giving locally has allowed us to make a local impact for cancer patients.

Ovarian cancer lags behind other cancers when it comes to the availability of modern, targeted treatments, and the prognosis for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer is often poor. All cancer patients should be able to benefit from the most advanced treatments medicine has to offer. That’s why it’s essential we keep supporting and funding early research for the future so we can develop the treatments we need. We are relieved that olaparib will finally be available for patients in Scotland."

Olaparib is in clinical trials for a wide range of other cancer types including breast and pancreatic cancer.  Worldwide Cancer Research continues to be involved in the drug and is funding work looking at how to stop patients becoming resistant to the treatment.

(Image source: AstraZeneca PLC)