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PARP inhibitors

Other names: Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors

What are PARP inhibitors?

Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors, which are often called PARP inhibitors, are targeted therapies that are used to treat cancer. PARP is a protein that has a role in cellular growth, regulation and cell repair which helps the cancer cells repair themselves and survive. The PARP inhibitor stops the cancer cells being repaired which causes the cells to die and so reduces tumor growth.

How they work

DNA damage and mutation can occurs naturally and can lead to cancer. If there is a little DNA damage the body has ways of repairing the DNA so the cell will survive, but if there is too much damage then the cell triggers it own death. The body repairs the damaged DNA by using the tumor suppressor gene (e.g. BRCA gene) and a protein called PARP. This system usually works well together. Any DNA damage is fixed by the tumor suppressor gene and by PARP, so you have either fixed DNA and the cell survives, or if the DNA has too much damage and the cell dies.

In cancers where the tumor suppressor gene is faulty the cancer cells are repaired only by PARP. The PARP repair is incomplete which means the cancer cells DNA is repaired to a point where it just has a small amount of damage and the cancer cells are able to able to grow and divide. If the PARP did not repair the DNA then the cancer cells would have too much damage in its DNA so would trigger its own death. The PARP inhibitors act to stop the cancer cells DNA being repaired by PARP, so the damaged DNA stays at the critical level that causes cell to trigger its own death and therefore inhibits the growth of the tumor.

What they treat

PARP inhibitors are used to treat cancers that have mistakes in their DNA repair genes (e.g. BRCA mutation). The range of cancers treated and uses of PARP inhibitors may increase as more research is completed. Currently they are used to treat:

  • ovarian cancer
  • fallopian tube cancer
  • peritoneal cancer
  • breast cancer

List of PARP inhibitors:

View by  Brand | Generic
Drug Name Avg. Rating Reviews
Zejula (Pro)
Generic name: niraparib
43 reviews
Lynparza (Pro)
Generic name: olaparib
11 reviews
Talzenna (Pro)
Generic name: talazoparib
No reviews
Rubraca (Pro)
Generic name: rucaparib
No reviews
For ratings, users were asked how effective they found the medicine while considering positive/adverse effects and ease of use (1 = not effective, 10 = most effective).

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.