Scientists at the University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital recently published a novel study in which they developed a new genetic test that can identify patients with ovarian cancer who benefit from PARP inhibitors– a targeted cancer drug.
This finding is crucial since PARP inhibitor therapy is linked with potentially serious side effects. In turn, it is crucial to target the drug to patients who would reap the most benefits.
The test, which was optimized for the Finnish population, was clinically approved at HUS– the largest healthcare provider in Finland– and is used to test all ovarian cancer patients in the country.
As of 2022, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland has also included PARP inhibitors among its list of drugs. This means that the expense of PARP inhibitors can be reimbursed based on genetic testing.
“The genetic test helps to identify patients who do not benefit from the drug, thus avoiding unnecessary treatment and the adverse effects associated with the drug,” explained Anniina Farkkila, a specialist from HUH Helsinki University Hospital.
“At the same time, as much as millions of euros of public funds can be saved.”
But, the test does not only improve the likelihood of optimal PARP inhibitor response among patients while saving federal funds.
It is also helping more patients gain access to the drug therapy– which can drastically improve their quality of life.
Compared to other gynecological cancers, ovarian cancer has a worse prognosis. Additionally, patients’ diagnoses are also often delayed because symptoms present as minor or unclear.