: High-grade serous ovarian cancer is characterized by genomic instability, with one half of all tumors displaying defects in the important DNA repair pathway of homologous recombination. Given the action of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors in targeting tumors with deficiencies in this repair pathway by loss of BRCA1/2, ovarian tumors could be an attractive population for clinical application of this therapy. PARP inhibitors have moved into clinical practice in the past few years, with approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) within the past 2 years. The U.S. FDA approval of olaparib applies to fourth line treatment in germline BRCA-mutant ovarian cancer, and European EMA approval to olaparib maintenance in both germline and somatic BRCA-mutant platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer. In order to widen the ovarian cancer patient population that would benefit from PARP inhibitors, predictive biomarkers based on a clear understanding of the mechanism of action are required. Additionally, a better understanding of the toxicity profile is needed if PARP inhibitors are to be used in the curative, rather than the palliative, setting. We reviewed the development of PARP inhibitors in phase I-III clinical trials, including combination trials of PARP inhibitors and chemotherapy/antiangiogenics, the approval for these agents, the mechanisms of resistance, and the outstanding issues, including the development of biomarkers and the rate of long-term hematologic toxicities with these agents.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: The poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitor olaparib has recently received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA), with a second agent (rucaparib) likely to be approved in the near future. However, the patient population with potential benefit from PARP inhibitors is likely wider than that of germline BRCA mutation-associated disease, and biomarkers are in development to enable the selection of patients with the potential for clinical benefit from these agents. Questions remain regarding the toxicities of PARP inhibitors, limiting the use of these agents in the prophylactic or adjuvant setting until more information is available. The indications for olaparib as indicated by the FDA and EMA are reviewed.